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Union and OTimrs 








[Mr. North resigned May 3, 1906, the Secretary being elected 
Treasurer for the remainder of Mr. North's term.] 












The Mayor of Buffalo, the Corporation Counsel, the Comptroller, 
Superintendent of Education, President of the Board of Park Com- 
missioners, and President of the Common Council, are also ex-officio 
members of the Board of Managers of the Buffalo Historical Society. 




*MlLLARD FlLLMORE, l86~2 tO 1867 




"HoN. NATHAN K. HALL, 1871 




*HoN. JAMES SHELDON, 1875 and 1886 


*CAPT. E. P. DORR, 1877 


WILLIAM H. H. NEWMAN, 1879 and 1885 

"HoN. ELIAS S. HAWLEY, 1880 



"WILLIAM DANA FOBES, 1883 and 1884 




"GEORGE S. HAZARD, 1890 and 1892 

"JOSEPH C. GREENE, M. D., 1891 

*Juuus H. DAWES, 1893 

ANDREW LANGDON, 1894 to 1906 

* Deceased. 


THE present volume, like its predecessors, is a histori- 
cal miscellany relating chiefly to the region of Buf- 
falo, the Niagara Frontier and the Lower Lakes. 
Although in a sense "local history," very little herein con- 
tained is merely local. Most of the papers will be found 
of distinct value as contributions to the historical literature 
of several critical periods in the one broad Story of America. 

Several of the papers were prepared expressly for this 
volume, notably the history of "The Johnson's Island Plot," 
by Mr. Frederick J. Shepard; the paper on "Millard Fill- 
more and his part in the Opening of Japan," by William 
Elliot Griffis, D. D. ; and the sketch of Louis Le Couteulx, 
by Miss Martha J. F. Murray. 

Mr. Shepard's paper on "The Johnson's Island Plot" is 
an ideal monograph on a subject which is worthy the care- 
ful attention the author has given it. It may be here noted 
that since this paper was put in type, there has appeared a 
book by John W. Headley of Louisville, Ky. ("Confederate 
Operations in Canada and New York." N. Y. and Wash- 
ington: Neale Publishing Co., 1906), which gives (pp. 301- 
307) a somewhat detailed account of the attempted train- 
wrecking exploit near Buffalo. Col. Headley supplies the 
names of ten persons as participants his own being one 
and in some other respects varies from the story of this 
affair as told by Anderson on Beall's trial. But Headley's 


chief contribution to the Johnson's Island story is his con- 
viction that the person who betrayed the plot to the Federal 
authorities was one Godfrey J. Hyams of Little Rock, Ark. 

The study of "Millard Fillmore and his part in the 
Opening of Japan," by Dr. Griffis was originally given as 
an address before the members of the Buffalo Historical 
Society. All who heard the distinguished author on that 
occasion, or who may read his paper in this volume, will 
be pleased to learn that the interest in the subject which was 
awakened by the writing of this sketch has led Dr. Griffis 
to enter upon the preparation of a comprehensive life of 
Millard Fillmore, a work which, singularly enough, has not 
heretofore been done. The existing biographies were pub- 
lished during his lifetime and were of the nature of cam- 
paign documents. The one which is perhaps best known, 
by W. L. Barre of Kentucky, appeared in 1856, eighteen 
years before Mr. Fillmore's death and when he was before 
the public as a candidate for the Presidency. That biogra- 
phies so prepared are inadequate to the demands of the 
thoughtful student of American history, is obvious. 

Dr. Griffis will be grateful for any documents or per- 
sonal reminiscences, especially by those who were inti- 
mate with Mr. Fillmore in the latter years of his life in 
Buffalo, which may enable him to make a true presentation 
of Mr. Fillmore's character and the part which he bore in 
the affairs of his time. Dr. Griffis may be addressed at 
Ithaca, N. Y., or in the care of the Buffalo Historical 

The editor of this volume had planned to supplement 
the paper by Dr. Griffis with certain reminiscences of Mr. 
Fillmore by his old friends and neighbors in Buffalo, and by 
a collection of his writings. As this material was brought 


together it grew to such proportions that it was found 
impossible to include it in the present volume. A succeeding 
volume of this series will therefore be largely perhaps 
wholly devoted to the writings of Mr. Fillmore and to 
related matter deemed of permanent historical value. His 
messages and other executive documents are now collected 
in print and easy of access. It is not proposed to reprint 
these; but to gather up from many sources his letters, per- 
sonal and public, his speeches on great issues, and sundry 
miscellaneous writings never yet brought together. Such 
a work is indeed an obligation on the part of the Buffalo 
Historical Society, of which Millard Fillmore was a founder 
and its first president. It is hoped the volume may be ready 
early in the coming year. 

One matter of peculiar local interest, touched on by Dr. 
Griffis, is the destruction of Mr. Fillmore's papers- by the 
executors of his son's estate. The facts in the case, it is 
believed, are stated in a note on page 65. However much 
one may regret the loss of such rich material for the right 
reading of history, yet the present 'editor cannot endorse 
Dr. Griffis' phrase (p. 77) that it was a "wanton" destruc- 
tion. The attorney, faithful in the discharge of a legal obli- 
gation, had no honorable alternative, however much he may 
have regretted the loss which his act entailed. 

Miss Murray's pleasant paper on Louis Le Couteulx, 
and the accompanying documents, bring out for the first time 
in local annals, a picturesque and worthy character. It is a 
painstaking and sympathetic study, and only the lack of 
material touching certain periods of Mr. Le Couteulx's 
career, keeps it from being what in all other respects it 
already is a definitive picture of one of the most attractive 
figures in the early history of Buffalo. Special acknowledg- 


ment is herewith made, on the part of the author, of assist- 
ance rendered by Mr. John McManus of Buffalo, especially 
for the use of correspondence relating to Mr. Le Couteulx's 
captivity; also for assistance given by the Rev. John J. 
Dillon, pastor of St. Mary's church, Albany; Mr. P. H. 
McQuade and Miss Helen F. Moran of the Public School 
Department, Albany ; and the Rev. Charles Duffy, assistant 
pastor, Immaculate Conception church, Buffalo. 

Probably nothing in this volume will prove more wel- 
come to many readers in Buffalo than the collection of pio- 
neer reminiscences by Mrs. Jonathan Sidway, Mrs. Martha 
St. John Skinner, Mrs. Benjamin Bidiwell, William Hodge 
and others who bore a part in the strenuous days of Buffalo's 
infancy. These papers were written many years ago and 
deposited with the Buffalo Historical Society. At that time 
the society was not able to undertake their publication ; but 
the wise forethought which saw to it that these papers were 
penned before it was too late, now enables us to help fill in 
the printed record of Buffalo's early days, especially of the 
crucial years of the War of 1812. 

The editor feels that a word of explanation is due for 
the use of so much of his own writing in these pages. When 
.the work of publishing this volume was entered upon, he 
was promised for use therein, what he believed would be a 
most valuable and elaborate contribution to the historical 
narratives of this region; only to learn, after waiting some 
months for the manuscript, that he was not to have it. That 
there should not be undue delay in issuing this volume, he 
turned to his own manuscripts to fill the gap. Perhaps the 
chief claim of "The Story of Joncaire" to attention is, that 
it is based wholly on documentary sources, treats of a period 
which heretofore has received but little attention from writ- 


ers, and sets forth for the first time numerous data of import- 
ance in the history of the region. Since these chapters were 
printed, the author has learned of the letter written by the 
first Baron de Longueuil, April 28, 1726, appointing his son 
Charles Le Moyne (then a captain, afterwards second Baron 
de Longueuil) to be the first commandant of Fort Niagara 
the focal point of all our regional history under the 
French. It directs him to repair to Niagara with a detach- 
ment of .troops, to superintend the construction of the fort ; 
and calls upon the officers and soldiers of the detachment, 
and especially upon Lieutenant the Sieur de Joncaire, and 
upon all travelers passing through the Niagara, to acknowl- 
edge his authority. As this first commission of the first 
commandant of Fort Niagara is a document of some conse- 
quence in our local annals, it may be given here as matter 
of record : 

"Charles Le Moyne, Baron de Longueuil, Chevalier de 
St. Louis, gouverneur de Montreal, et commandant general 
pour le roy en toute la Nouvelle-France. 

"It est ordonne au Sieur de Longueuil, capt. des troupes 
destinees pour Niagara, de se rendre avec le plus de dili- 
gence qu'il pourra au poste de Niagara, avec le detachement 
que nous lui avons donne, afin d'y executer les ordres dont 
nous 1'avons charges pour le service de Sa Majeste. 

"Enjoignons aux officiers et soldats du susdit detache- 
ment et au Sieur de Joncaire, lieutenant des troupes, que 
nous avons fait partir pour se rendre des premiers a Niag- 
ara, de reconnaitre le dit Sieur de Longueuil pour com- 
mandant et de lui obeir en tout ce qu'il leur commandera 
pour le service du Roy; ordonnons pareillement aux voy- 
ageurs qui passeront a Niagara, tant en montant qu'en de- 
scendant, de luy obeir en tout ce qu'il pourra leur command- 
der pour le service de Sa Majeste. LONGUEUIL/' 

"Fait a Montreal, le vingt-huit Avril 1726." 


The series of Publications of the Buffalo Historical Soci- 
ety now includes nine volumes. The first two are out of 
print ; the others can be supplied by the Society. A list of 
them, with their principal contents, will be found in Appen- 
dix B of this volume. F. H. S. 






THE JOHNSON'S ISLAND PLOT . Frederick J. Shepard i 








ING OF JAPAN Wm. Elliot Griffis, D. D. 53 

THE STORY OF JONCAIRE .... Frank H. Severance 81 



















Frank H. Severance 221 



I. THE BURNING OF BUFFALO . Mrs. Jonathan Sidway 311 


Mrs. Martha St. John Skinner 337 

III. A BUFFALO BOY OF 1813 William Hodge 349 

IV. IN THE MIDST OF ALARMS, Mrs. Benjamin Bidwell 357 

VI. A PIONEER PATRIOT Daniel Brayman 361 

VII. A GUARDSMAN OF BUFFALO, Hezekiah A. Salisbury 367 

VIII. THE AFFAIR OF JUNE 4, 1813 .... James Aigin 371 

IX. A RIFLEMAN OF QUEENSTON . . . Jared Willson 373 


Eber D. Howe 377 



GUY H. SALISBURY David Gray 407 


CAUMONT Miss Martha J. F. Murray 431 















INDEX 513 




THE DE LERY ARMS Faces page 154 













ELLICOTT " " 446 













Tuesday, Sept. 20, 1864, was a day of excitement at 
Buffalo. That morning Provost Marshal William F. Rogers 
received the following dispatch from the Commandant of the 
depot for prisoners of war near Sandusky, O. : 


Rebels from Canada captured the steamers Parsons and Island 
Queen near the Bass Islands yesterday afternoon and have gone 
down or across the lake, disappearing from the Islands between 10 
and ii o'clock last night, probably gone for reinforcements, guns, 

i. The main printed authorities for this article are the "Official Records of 
the Union and Confederate Armies," which will be referred to as O. R. t the 
"Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies" being designated as 
O. R. (N), and the "Memoir of John Yates Beall," which includes his diary 
and the official account of his trial. The latter was published separately by 
Appleton in 1865 and is summarized in O. R., ser. 2, v. 8, pp. 279-82, 398-400. 


and ammunition. The capturing party numbered about thirty, with 
abundance of revolvers and bowie knives; no other arms wer 
noticed At Middle Bass Island the captors took wood enough 
last two days. Warn all vessels and steamers and send all important 
information here. We have one of the principal conspirators in 
arrest. CHAS. W. HILL, 

Colonel Commanding. 

During the afternoon a similar dispatch was received by 
Mayor William G. Fargo from Col. Lathrop, inspector-gen- 
eral on the staff of Gen. Heintzleman, commanding the 
Northern Department, at Columbus, O., with this additional 
statement : "It is presumed that it was the intention of the 
pirates to capture boats of the Michigan and release the pris- 
oners on Johnson's Island. As they were foiled in this, 
they may with the two steamers commence depredations on 
the lake." 

A meeting of the Board of Trade was called at 2 p. M V at 
which, on the motion of David S. Bennett, it was voted to 
procure and arm one or two tugs to act as pickets off Buffalo 
Harbor. While the board was still in session a telegram, 
supposed to be from the operator at Detroit, was received, 
announcing that both the captured steamers had been re- 
taken, that the Island Queen had been sunk, and that the 
Parsons had been towed into Detroit Harbor in a sinking 
condition. Fifteen minutes later still another dispatch was 
received giving further particulars of the raid, this being 
signed by Walter O. Ashley, clerk of the steamer Parsons, 
who was on board at the time of the capture. The tugboat 
Sarah E. Bryant was chartered and armed that evening and 
placed on guard off the harbor, but the next day, the alarm 

The fullest account of the raid is that by Gen. Dix in O. R., ser. i, v. 43, pt. 2, 
pp. 225-47, but this is supplemented by the testimony on the trial of Beall, and 
especially by that in the Burley extradition proceedings given in the Upper 
Canada Law Journal, n. s., v. i, and also printed in the Toronto Globe of Jan. 
28, 1865, a copy of which is in the possession of the Buffalo Historical Society. 
That the Michigan was seen by those on board the Parsons and that a Confed- 
erate flag was hoisted on the latter are facts brought out only in the Toronto 
proceedings. Most of the statements regarding the establishment and conduct 
of 4 the prison are from O. R., ser. 2, v. 3, 4, 5, and 6. Other data have been 
gathered by interview or correspondence with participants in the events 
described, as will appear from the narrative. 




Entrance to Sandusky Bay, and other features of the western 
end of Lake Erie. 

having subsided, it was concluded that her further services 
could be dispensed with. An occasional newspaper para- 
graph afterwards marked the only local interest in the most 
nearly successful of several conspiracies by Confederate 
refugees in Canada to capture the United States ship Michi- 
gan and release the Johnson's Island prisoners. 

The Island has recently been recalled to memory by the 
rejection of its claim to designation as the place for the 


Great Lakes naval training station, in favor of Lake Bluffs, 
near Chicago. This decision by the Washington authorities 
was a grievous disappointment to Sandusky folk, who re- 
garded the site offered by themselves as far and away the 
best on the inland seas. Most of the harbors on the Great 
Lakes consist of narrow creeks, the sheltering facilities of 
which have been increased by the construction of costly 
breakwaters, but Sandusky lies upon a broad bay which only 
requires dredging to form a great natural harbor. Within 
the bay lies Johnson's Island 2 of 300 acres, gently rising 
from the surface of Lake Erie to a height of fifty feet. The 
natural surroundings are very pleasing, the region salu- 
brious, the climate as mild as at any point on the Great 
Lakes, while the situation, hard by a thickly settled part of 
the country and easily accessible but remote from the dis- 
tractions of a great city, seemed to supply the ideal site foi 
such an institution as was planned. The objection which 
prevailed against its selection is understood to have been its 
accessibility to a foreign and possibly hostile nation ; and, 
however unreasonable this suggestion now sounds, it must 
be admitted that while the island was in use as a place of de- 
tention for captured Confederate officers its contiguity to 
Canada was a source of constant anxiety to the Federal 
authorities. That this anxiety was not altogether without 
basis will be shown in this paper, which is an attempt to 
tell, coherently, a story, the usual narration of which has 
involved much incoherence and more fiction. 

2. The island is supposed to have been the seat of a French trading post 
from 1708 to 1744, when the Wyandotte Indians killed five of the occupants 
and drove the survivors to Detroit. They returned in 1749 and continued to 
occupy the island until shortly before the Revolution. It was included in the 
Fire Lands and came into the possession of Epaphroditus W. Bull of Danbury, 
Conn., whose family owned it until the sale to L. B. Johnson. The latter had 
sold a small portion just before his death, and all but twenty-four of 286 acres 
which compose the island are now owned by James H. Emrich and Charles 
Dick of Sandusky. Stone from quarries there was used in the construction of 
the Cleveland breakwater. The Sandusky Register of June 10, 1902, contains 
a brief history of the island by Mrs. Alice McK. Melville Milne. There are 
some interesting pictures of prison life there with Horace Carpenter's "Plain 
Living at Johnson's Island," Century Magazine, n. s., v. 19, pp. 705-18, 
March, 1891. 


Col. William Hoffman, whose name is familiar to old 
Buffalonians, was an officer of the Third Infantry who had 
the misfortune to be surrendered by Gen. Twiggs to the 
Confederates at the very beginning of the Civil War, and as 
they persistently refused to release him from his parole he 
was appointed Commissary General of Prisoners and held 
this position under the Federal Government to the end. In 
October, 1861, he selected Johnson's Island as a depot for 
prisoners of war. 

An area of fifteen acres on the south shore of the island 
was enclosed by a fence twelve feet high, and within were 
constructed thirteen two-story barracks and a hospital, the 
barracks varying in length from 117 to 134 feet and in 
width from twenty-four to twenty-nine feet and being di- 
vided, four into twenty-two rooms and the others into six 
compartments each. The fence or palisade, which was of 
pickets on the lake side and of closely-fitting boards on the 
other three sides, was protected by a blockhouse at the 
northeast corner, and another not far from the southwest 
corner so situated that it guarded the gate and looked down 
the street on either side of which stood the two rows of bar- 
racks. Of all the buildings, including the dozen or so out- 
side the enclosure in which were quartered the guards, this 
blockhouse at the gate alone is standing at the present time 
and forms, with the Confederate cemetery and the ruins of 
two earth forts, erected late in the history of the prison, the 
only memorial of the island's Federal occupation. The 
cemetery is north of the former enclosure and occupies a 
plot given for the purpose by Leonard B. Johnson, who 
owned the island from 1852 until his death in 1898, and who 
for a time maintained at his own expense a fence about the 
burial place. 

About 230 Confederates were buried here, and there are 
now 206 graves, the rough wooden slabs, inscribed by the 
survivors with penknife or pencil, having given place to 
uniform marble tombstones which were erected by the people 
of the South as the consequence of a visit to Sandusky by a 
Southern editorial excursion. The United States Govern- 


From Atlas accompanying the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 
1861-1865. Washington, 1895. The drawing was made in 1864 to accom- 
pany an estimate for cost of waterworks, and shows water- 
courses and pipe-lines relating to that work. 


ment provided the iron fence which now encloses them. For 
years the Sandusky Grand Army men have annually deco- 
rated these graves just as they do those of the Union dead on 
the mainland, and they have even incurred some criticism 
for so doing. Among the Confederates who lie here were 
at least five prisoners executed by the order of military com- 
missions. Two of these were Captains William F. Corbin 
and T. G. McGraw, who had been captured early in April, 
1863, in Pendleton County, Ky., had been convicted in Cin- 
cinnati of recruiting Confederates within the Federal lines, 
and were shot to death May I5th on the island in pursuance 
of orders from Gen. Burnside. 3 At a later date two pris- 
oners were hanged for their atrocious treatment of Southern 
Unionists. This execution, of which the writer has been 
unable to find mention in the "Official Records of the Union 
and Confederate Armies," is attested by Henry C. Strong, a 
respected Sandusky manufacturer, who at the time was an 
assistant quartermaster on the island and had the misfor- 
tune to be detailed to witness the event. It must have oc- 
curred some time in 1864, for an official report 4 in January 
of that year shows that there had then been but three execu- 
tions all told, although 6,415 prisoners had been received, of 
whom 2,983 had been exchanged, 302 discharged on oath 
of allegiance, parole, or otherwise, 363 transferred to other 
prisons, and one shot dead by a sentinel, while but three had 

The insignificant percentage of escapes is notable in view 
of the fact that only a narrow and shallow passage separates 

3- O. R., ser. 2, v. 5, p. 556 et passim. In retaliation for their execution 
the Confederate Government ordered the hanging of two Union officers of equal 
rank, who were to be selected by lot. The lot fell to Capts. Henry W Sawyer 
F.rst New Jersey cavalry, and John M. Flinn, S ist Indiana infantry and they 
were actually taken to the place of execution, and ropes put around their necks 
The execution was delayed by the accident that Flinn was a Roman Catholic 

d had not received the rites of the church, and they would surely have been 

langed at the expiration of their reprieve of ten days, had not President 

In ordered that, in case the execution was carried out in their case Gen 

\\-lham H. F. Lee, a son of Robert E. Lee, and another Confederate officer 

hould at once be hanged. In consequence these officers were finally exchanged 

e expenence of Capts. Sawyer and Flinn is told dramatically by James M 

Mradlmg in McClure's Magazine, v. 26, pp. 94-101, November, 1905 

4- O. R., ser. 2, v. 6, p. 851. 


the island from the mainland on the west, while in winter the 
frozen lake afforded some facilities for reaching Canada. 
However, a ditch dug just inside the palisade to the solid 
rock, which is nowhere more than a few feet from the sur- 
face, proved a formidable obstacle to tunneling. A story is 
told in Frank Moore's "Anecdotes, Poetry, and Incidents of 
the War," of a party of fugitives, two or three of whom 
managed one dark, wet night to crawl under the fence. But 
a stout fellow who attempted to follow them got stuck and 
unable to wriggle either back or forward, remained in his 
uncomfortable position from g p. M. till 5.30 A. M., when the 
cold forced him to call a sentinel's attention to his predica- 
ment, with the result that the other men were retaken before 
they got off the island. 

In the "Southern Historical Society Papers" it is related 
that Lieut. Charles H. Pierce of the Seventh Louisiana In- 
fantry improvised a musket from a piece of wood, fruit cans, 
and the handle of a camp kettle, and, having procured a 
Federal uniform from someone connected with the hospital, 
tried to pass himself off as a guard, but his lack of a cart- 
ridge box caused a rebuking officer to take from him the 
musket, the lightness of which of course undid him. 5 

One man who actually succeeded in escaping, only to suf- 
fer a worse fate than confinement on Johnson's Island, was 
Capt. Robert C. Kennedy of the First Louisiana Infantry, 
a former West Point cadet, who in November, 1864, partici- 
pated in the conspiracy to burn New York, himself attempt- 
ing to set fire to Barnum's Museum and the Belmont and 
Tammany Hotels, for which he was hanged at Fort Lafay- 
ette, under especially shocking conditions, March 25, 1865. 
The fact that the prisoners were practically all officers made 
their care more difficult ; for not only were they more fertile 
in expedients and more eager to escape than would have been 
the case with the same number of rank and file, but they 
were also more insubordinate, especially when it came to 

5. V. 8, pp. 65-6, January, 1880. Lieut. M. McNamara, who tells this story, 
admits that, though this was only one of repeated attempts by Pierce to escape, 
Col. Hill humanely overlooked the offense and complimented the prisoner on his 
courage and ingenuity, but confiscated the gun as a curiosity. 


requiring them to perform such necessary police duty as 
the removal of garbage. That they knew of the conspiracies 
to effect their release is the evidence, among others, of 
Archibald S. McKennon of South McAlester, I. T., counsel 
for the Seminole nation and a valued member of the Dawes 
Commission, who as a captain and assistant quartermaster of 
the Sixteenth Arkansas Infantry had been captured at Port 
Hudson. In a communication to the writer he says of the 
Beall conspiracy: 

"We were organized into companies and regiments and had armed 
ourselves with clubs, which were made of stove wood and other ma- 
terial at hand, with which to make the fight. I think I was a captain 
of the organization, for I occupied some position by which I had 
information of the contemplated movement. I remember I had 
several conferences with the Colonel as to my duties, and we were 
in constant expectation of orders, which never came, to make the 
fight. It surely would have been a pitiable affair, for the undertaking 
was wholly impracticable." 

Lieut. J. W. Gamble of Catawba Island, whose battery of 
light artillery was at the time stationed on Johnson's Island 
and at Cedar Point opposite, says that the prisoners ap- 
peared to be anticipating a raid of some sort. 

The number of prisoners averaged 788 during 1862, 1,205 
during 1863, and 2,480 during 1864, running still higher in 
the early months of 1865. The period in which we have 
most interest is the latter part of September, 1864, and on 
the last day of that month the number was 2,663. In the 
"Collections of the Virginia Historical Society" (new series, 
vol. 6), can be found the names of 2,545 prisoners who were 
on the island between Nov. 22, 1862, and Sept. 5, 1864, with 
their rank, military affiliations, and place of capture, to- 
gether with a list of 168 others who died between May I, 
1862, and March 3, 1864, with the cause of death. 7 The 

6. Whitelaw Reid's "Ohio in the War," v. 2, pp. 653-6. 

Joe Barbiere's "Scraps from the Prison Table, at Camp Chase and 

ohnsons Island" (Doylestown, Pa., 1868), contains another roster of 1,303 

isoners confined at Johnson's Island and exchanged in September, 1862, with 

regiments and place and date of capture and some further information 

regarding them. 


prison was guarded by the Hoffman Battalion, which, con- 
sisting at the start of two companies recruited in Sandusky 
and the neighborhood, was increased during 1862 by the 
addition of two more, and in January, 1864, became, on re- 
ceiving six more companies, the I28th Ohio Infantry. Many 
of the officers and men had been at the front with other or- 
ganizations and owed their presence on the island to wounds 
or enfeebled health, and details from the regiment were fre- 
quently called away to repel Confederate raids into other 
parts of the state, or neighboring states, so that, with the 
rather exacting duties of guarding the prisoners and fortify- 
ing the island, the members of this force enjoyed their share 
of hard work, even if it was not attended with much danger. 
The battalion was commanded by Lieut.-Col. William S. 
Pierson, 8 a Sandusky lawyer belonging to a distinguished 
Windsor, Conn., family and a Yale graduate of the class of 
1836, who, though no soldier, conducted the affairs of the 
prison with such intelligence and fidelity that at the close of 
the war, on the recommendation of Gen. Hoffman, he was 
brevetted a brigadier general, in spite of the fact that he had 
resigned when the battalion became a regiment, to the com- 
mand of which Charles W. Hill, Adjutant-General of the 
state, had appointed himself. Whatever criticism Pierson's 
conduct of the prison received was generally on the ground 
that he was not sufficiently severe. Inspecting officers some- 
times reported that "too much lenity has been allowed the 
prisoners." 9 Gen. Hoffman wrote the Commandant that 
"kindness alone will not keep prisoners in subjection." Gen. 
Trimble, a prisoner, in a letter complaining of other matters, 
admitted that excellent bread and coffee were furnished. 

8. He had been Mayor of Sandusky in 1861. In 1864 he returned to 
Windsor and "spent the last fifteen years of his life on his father's homestead, 
in uneventful but very active attention to a wide range of business, both per- 
sonal and as a trust for others, for which his integrity and judgment fitted him 
in a rare degree. . . . He was the fifth in descent from the first Rector of 
Yale College. As he had no children, and no brothers who attained maturity, 
and as his father was the only son of an only son, the male line of this branch 
of Rector Pierson's descendants terminated with him, in one who was well 
worthy to close the line of a worthy ancestor." Historical and Biographical 
Record of the Class of 1836, in Yale College. 

9. O. R., ser. 2, v. 4, pp. 88-9; v. 6, pp. 900 and 902. 


Departing prisoners sometimes dropped hints to the officers 
that a stronger guard was needed, and we even find some of 
the Confederate conspirators relying on Pierson's humanity 
as a factor in favor of the success of their plans. 


In November, 1863, Gen. Jacob D. Cox 10 made a careful 
examination of the prison conditions, and he records that the 
food was plain but good in quality, similar to the army ration 
and at that time abundant. He was fully satisfied that the 
garrison administration was honest and humane and that the 
prisoners suffered only such evils as were necessarily inci- 
dent to confinement in a narrow space and to life in tempor- 
ary barracks of the kind used in all military camps. Un- 
happily there is ample evidence that at a later period and 
under the administration of Col. Hill, the treatment of the 
prisoners was harsher. Horace Carpenter says in the Cen- 
tury that the food was insufficient to satisfy the cravings of 
hunger and left the prisoners each day with a little less life 
and strength with which to fight the battle of the day to 
follow, and that for months he was not free from the crav- 
ings of hunger. Maj. Robert Stiles, a well-known Rich- 
mond lawyer and the author of "Four Years under Marse 
Robert," testifies that the rations were at sundry times re- 
duced below the amount confessedly indispensable to the 
maintenance of a man in full health, and that he observed 
pitiful hunger and destitution, although he acknowledges 
that he did not suffer seriously in his own person. 11 But 
perhaps the most convincing evidence that harsher treat- 

10. "Military Reminiscences of the Civil War," v. 2, pp. 57-66. 

11. "Southern Historical Society Papers," v. i, pp. 279-81, April, 1876. 
In his book, "The Southern Side; or Andersonville Prison Compiled from 
Original Documents" (Baltimore, 1876), Dr. R. Randolph Stevenson charges 
(pp. 168-9) against Johnson's Island poor quality of food, lack of medicine, 
insufficient clothing, and cruel treatment. But as the surgeon in charge at 
Andersonville he had personal reasons for the tu quoque argument, and he 
fails to give the names of his witnesses. 


ment prevailed after the North had become wrought up over 
the sufferings of Federals in Southern prison pens, is inci- 
dentally revealed in this story, which is otherwise interesting, 
told by Mr. McKennon to express his warm regard for 
Lieut.-Col. Scoville, Hill's second in command: 

"I was chief of my mess of about eighty men and had 
charge of the cook room on the lower floor at the north end 
of Block 13. We organized a tunneling party, at first of six 
men. When we were worked down we swore in six more, 
then the third six, making in all eighteen men. We began 
tunneling immediately under the cook room and dug a tun- 
nel toward the north prison wall, as I now remember two 
and a half feet in diameter and about thirty-six feet long. 
The man in the hole used an old horse rasp in digging. He 
filled a pan which was drawn out by a string by a man at the 
mouth of the tunnel, and a third man back under the floor 
drew it back with the string and stored the dirt away. Just 
before we got to the wall we were intercepted by a ditch dug 
just inside of the wall about four feet deep to a solid rock, 
under which we endeavored to make our way, but failed. 
We abandoned the work one evening, and there was a heavy 
rainfall that night, and the tunnel caved in about half way 
between the block and the ditch. 

"The next morning Col. Scoville came in and told me he 
wanted to investigate the tunneling business. I went 
through and showed him the way and told him all about it. 
Finally he asked me how many were in it. I asked him to 
excuse me for not answering that question, adding that I 
knew the orders which had been posted in the prison, in 
which it was stated that in case of tunneling the rations 
would be cut off and the chief of the mess in which it oc- 
curred would be punished severely. I told him the members 
of the mess were innocent, that if we had been aware that 
anyone knew it and was liable to divulge the facts we would 
have killed him, and that the prisoners' rations were already 
so scant and they were so thin and enfeebled for want of 
sufficient food that if their rations were cut off for a day it 
would prove fatal to many, and that he might as well kill 
them outright. 


"He asked me if we were indeed hungry. I told him I 
weighed normally 152 pounds and that I had gone down to 
108 for want of sufficient food, but that I was in his hands 
for punishment and would submit to any that he might im- 
pose, only I did not want anyone else punished. My asso- 
ciates were looking on, and had he taken me from the prison, 
all would have gone with me. 

"He said: 'I believe I will not punish you. I think I 
would have done the same thing, had I been in your condi- 
tion.' I told him I was not wanting punishment, for I knew 
I could not stand much and would be grateful if he would 
excuse me. He then said he would send us something to eat, 
and in a little while we received about as much food as we 
usually got in two days." 

Mr. McKennon was so grateful that long afterward, 
when Guiteau was tried for the murder of Garfield, thinking 
that his brother-in-law and counsel, Scoville, might be his 
old acquaintance, he offered to come on and remain with him 
through the ordeal and give him all the assistance he could 
in Guiteau's defense; but inquiry proved that the brother- 
in-law was not his old keeper. It is worth noting that the 
Johnson's Island Scoville was such a strict disciplinarian 
that, according to one of his officers, he was known among 
his own men as "Old Pizen." 

All of the accounts written by prisoners have much to 
say of their suffering from cold during a Great Lake winter. 
In one of his reports Col. Pierson described his charges as 
"the coldest set he ever saw." They were unused to weather 
of the zero kind, and they were thinly clad, while it would 
have been impossible to keep their roughly constructed bar- 
racks comfortable under the most favorable conditions. 
Probably their guards also suffered a good deal from the 
same cause. It is true that the Government professed to 
supply such of the prisoners as actually needed them with 
overcoats, but complaint is made of the stringency of the 
regulations which kept a long line of shivering men waiting 
for hours out of doors while the garments were doled out to 
them. It is difficult for anyone who examines the evidence 


to question that much hardship was endured during the last 
years of the war. 

When reports of Confederate plots to release the pris- 
oners reached the authorities, the force on the island was 
hurriedly strengthened by details from the front or else- 
where. During the winter of 1863-4 there arrived six com- 
panies of the Twelfth Ohio Cavalry, the Twenty-fourth Bat- 
tery with six guns, and two detachments of the First Ohio 
Heavy Artillery with seven heavy guns. From January until 
April, 1864, five regiments, forming the first brigade of the 
third division of the Sixth Corps, 12 were quartered, four 
under Gen. Alexander Shaler on the island and one under 
.Gen. H. D. Terry in San dusky. During the same year sev- 
eral Ohio regiments were sent to the island for longer or 
shorter periods as a place of rendezvous, equipment, and 
instruction. Mr. Strong says that some of the prisoners first 
became convinced of the hopelessness of their cause when, 
peeping between the pickets of their palisade, they viewed 
the movements of troops hurriedly summoned to prevent an 
expected or imagined outbreak on their part. They knew 
that every available man in the South was at the front, but 
the North seemed to have an inexhaustible supply left, if 
these could be brought to the island on such short notice. 

Almost from the establishment of the prison there were 
fears of Confederate incursions from Canada and of an out- 
break on the part of the inmates. So early as June, 1862, 
Col. Pierson was asking for more troops and begging that 
the Michigan, which usually lay at Erie and was the only 
war vessel on the lakes, might be sent to help guard the pris- 
oners. It was apparently at about this time 13 that the plan 
was adopted of stationing her in Sandusky Bay during the 
summer months, though she went back to her old Erie moor- 

12. The regiments on the island were the 6$th and 67th New York and 
the 23d and Sad Pennsylvania, the i22d Ohio being in Sandusky. Gen. Terry 
had command of the prison as well as the troops, and on his departure Col. 
Hill's regime began. 

13. The Michigan was used more or less for recruiting at the lake ports 
for the navy, but she had been sent to Sandusky before July 10, 1862. O. R., 
ser. 2, v. 4, p. 167. 


ings with the approach of winter. Whether there was any 
basis for the warnings of rebel raids sent from Detroit and 
Windsor, Ont, in June, 1862, is not clear, but we know that 
in February, 1863, Lieut. William H. Murdaugh, 14 then on 
board the Confederate steamer Beaufort at Richmond, laid 
before his superiors a scheme for the capture of the Michi- 
gan and the destruction of the lake cities. He proposed to 
purchase in Canada a small steamer (of 200 tons or so) and 
man her with a crew of fifty whose ostensible purpose was to 
be mining on Lake Superior. The men were to be armed 
with cutlasses and revolvers, and to be equipped with small 
iron buoys to be used as torpedoes, and also with powder and 
fuses and spirits of turpentine, to be used for starting fires in 
the lake cities and for blowing up the canal locks in and near 
Buffalo, the aqueduct at Rochester, the Ohio canal locks on 
the shore of Lake Erie, the Illinois and Michigan locks at 
Chicago, and the lock at Sault Ste. Marie. The first point to 
be aimed at was Erie, where the Michigan was to be cap- 
tured by boarding. Thence the smaller vessel was to be sent 
back to Lake Ontario before the news of the affair had 
reached the Canadians, if possible, to perform a work of 
destruction along the shore of New York State, while the 
Michigan proceeded to burn the shipping at Buffalo, Chi- 
cago, and Milwaukee and to destroy all the canal locks near 
the lakes. She was finally to be run ashore in the Georgian 
Bay and destroyed. 

The scheme met with the approval of the Confederate 
naval authorities and Cabinet, and the sum of $100,000 was 
collected for carrying it out, but, as a memorandum by Mur- 
daugh says, when everything was ready for a start, Presi- 
dent Davis, while deeming the enterprise practicable, caused 
it to be laid aside for a time, lest such a storm should be 
aroused over the violation of the British neutrality laws as 
to force a stop to the building of Confederate ironclads which 
were on the stocks in England. It will be noticed that the 
release of the prisoners on Johnson's Island formed no part 

14. O. R. (N), ser. i, v. 2, p. 828. Murdaugh speaks with much disgust 
the final mismanagement of the affair by the Confederate naval authorities. 


of this plot, which had doubtless been conceived before any 
large number of Confederates had been sent thither. But in 
August, 1863, Secretaries Seddon and Mallory suggested to 
Lieut. R. D. Minor, also of the Confederate navy, a similar 
enterprise having for its main purpose the release of the men 
confined at Sandusky. The proposition was eagerly em- 
braced; and furnished with a fund of some $111,000, a party 
of twenty-two naval officers, at the head of whom were 
Lieut.-Com. John Wilkinson and Lieuts. Minor and B. P. 
Loyall, successfully ran the blockade of the Cape Fear River 
and by way of Halifax reached Montreal about October 21 st. 
Taking lodgings in private boarding-houses, the conspirators 
established communications with the prisoners through the 
personal column of the New York Herald, in which it was 
announced that "a carriage would be at the door a few nights 
after the 4th of November." 

The original plan involved going aboard a lake steamer 
at Windsor, opposite Detroit, as passengers and seizing her 
when fairly out on Lake Erie. The prisoners were expected 
to rise on their guard, and their rescuers were simply to re- 
ceive them on board for transportation to Canada. But it 
was found necessary to adopt a different arrangement when 
it was learned that the lake steamers seldom and only at 
irregular intervals made landings on the Canadian side of 
the river. The Michigan seems to have been absent from 
Sandusky Bay for awhile, for she took her station before 
Johnson's Island October 24th, and possibly the discovery 
that she was again on guard had something to do witH the 
change of plan. 15 It was determined that passage should be 
taken at St. Catharines on the Welland Canal aboard one of 
a line of steamers running from Ogdensburg to Chicago, for 
the party as mechanics and laborers bound for Chicago to be 
employed on the waterworks there. The conspirators, their 
number now augmented to fifty- four from escaped prisoners 
found in Canada, equipped with two small nine-pounders, 

15. Besides making a cruise of Lake Erie in the early summer for the pur- 
pose of enlisting men, the Michigan had been summoned to Buffalo and Detroit 
on account of fears of draft riots in both cities. 


100 navy revolvers, butcher knives in lieu of cutlasses, and 
dumb-bells in place of cannon balls, the purchase of which 
in Montreal would have aroused suspicion, assembled at St. 
Catharines, a private named Conelly having gone to Ogclens- 
burg and paid the passage money for twenty-five of the 
party, with an agreement that as many more laborers should 
be taken as he could secure. The weapons were to be boxed 
up, marked "machinery," and put on board by one of the 
party who was to appear to be unconnected with the others. 
The plan was to seize the steamer when she was well clear of 
British jurisdiction, mount the two cannon, arrive at San- 
dusky about daylight, come into collision with the Michigan 
as if by accident, board and carry her, turn her guns on the 
prison headquarters, and demand the surrender of the island, 
Col. Pierson's well-known humanity being one of the fac- 
tors relied on to insure the success of this part of the under- 
taking. With the half dozen steamers at the wharf at San- 
dusky the prisoners could speedily have been landed in Can- 
ada, and then the Michigan, manned by the fifty-four con- 
spirators, "and some fifty of such men as the Berkeleys, 
Randolphs, Paynes, and others among the prisoners," would 
have had the lake shore from Sandusky to Buffalo at their 
mercy. Buffalo was especially marked out for attack. 

But on November nth, Lord Monck, Governor-General 
of Canada, warned the Washington authorities of the plot, 
at the same time sending a representative to watch the 
Welland Canal for any vessel whose passengers aroused sus- 
picion and detaining at Port Colborne the Canadian Rifles, 
who were usually relieved at this time of year. Two days 
before Bennett H. Hill, Acting-Assistant Provost-Marshal 
at Detroit, and Lieut.-Col. Smith, military commander there, 
had warned the Washington and the Johnson's Island offi- 
cials that within a few days an attack on the island might be 

On the strength of this Detroit message, although such 
an attack was deemed "very improbable," Gen. Jacob D. Cox, 
commanding the district of Ohio, ordered to the island No- 
vember loth a detachment of 500 infantry and a six-gun 


rifled battery. Lord Monck's warning was taken much more 
seriously. The Washington authorities sent a note of alarm 
to all the lake cities, and Gen. Dix hastened to Buffalo, whose 
undefended condition so greatly disturbed him that he 
recommended the removal of the prisoners from Johnson's 
Island. He reported to Secretary Stanton that the Buffalo 
militia regiments were only partially armed; that the State 
arsenal, with some 3,000 stand of arms and about twenty 
pieces of field artillery, was without a guard; and that the 
artillery was without ammunition. He ordered a tug to be 
chartered and armed, and he requested Governor Seymour to 
call out the 74th Regiment for thirty days. As the only 
regular troops in Buffalo consisted of about thirty men of 
the invalid corps, Gen. Brooks sent thither 100 men from 
Erie, where a considerable force had gathered and where 
the citizens had gone at work upon a small field defense 
commanding the entrance to the harbor. 

At Sandusky Gen. Cox collected troops and superintended 
the construction of fortifications at Cedar Point on the 
mainland opposite Johnson's Island. At the end of the 
month Gen. Halleck, with his usual perspicuity, expressed 
the opinion that there was "no real foundation in the pre- 
tended raid," and Gen. Dix, in spite of his previous alarm, 
seems to have shared this view, but the facts regarding the 
preparations here related are taken from a letter written in 
February, 1864, to Admiral Buchanan by Lieut. Minor, who 
attributes the failure of the enterprise wholly to its betrayal 
to Lord Monck, and he charges this betrayal to one McCuaig, 
a Canadian sympathizer with the South, who at the last 
moment, when success seemed certain, Minor says, became 
alarmed at the possible future effect on his own fortunes 
and revealed the scheme to Mr. Holden, a member of the 
Provincial government. 16 The conspirators, who had been 
awaiting hourly at St. Catharines the arrival of the steamer 
they were to board, dispersed and returned south by way of 
Halifax and Bermuda, a few of them lingering in Montreal 

1 6. O. R. (N), ser. i, v. 2, pp. 822-8. For further information regarding 
Lord Monck's message, see "Correspondence Relating to the Fenian Invasion 
and the Rebellion of the Southern States," Ottawa, 1869, pp. 75-80. 


five or ten days in order to give the Canadian authorities an 
opportunity to arrest them, if they saw fit. It was one of the 
effects of the alarm all along the Great Lakes over this at- 
tempt that the Hoffman Battalion was increased to a full 
regiment, Col. Charles W. Hill supplanting Lieut-Col. Pier- 
son, as already related, in command of the depot of prisoners 
of war, as the island was officially designated. 


The relation between the project of Lieut. Minor in 1863 
and the actual attempt of John Yates Beall in. 1864 is not 
entirely clear, but the conception of the Beall enterprise is 
attributed, apparently with justice, to Jacob Thompson, 
President Buchanan's Secretary of the Interior, who in the 
summer of 1864 was sent to Canada, in company with Hoi- 
comb of Virginia and C. C. Clay of Alabama, as a Commis- 
sioner of the Confederacy charged to inflict such injury on 
the United States as should fall within his power. At any 
rate in an account he gives of the affair to Secretary Benja- 
min he says he sent Capt. Charles H. Cole, who professed to 
have been appointed a lieutenant in the Confederate navy, 
around the lakes as a lower deck passenger, in order to 
familiarize himself with the approaches to the different har- 
bors and with the depositories of coal, and especially to enable 
him to learn all he could about the Michigan and to devise 
some plan for her capture. On his return from this duty, 
which, Thompson says, was performed very satisfactorily, 
he was sent to Sandusky to ingratiate himself with the offi- 
cers of the Michigan, with the idea of bribing some of them 
to give up the ship. Capt. T. Henry Hines gives in Vol. 2 
of the Southern Bivouac, a long account of "The North- 
western Conspiracy," in the course of which it is stated that 
on July 14, 1864, Thompson appointed Cole to the service of 
inspecting the lake defenses and providing for the capture of 
the Michigan, on the failure of W. L. McDonald, C. S. A., to 


perform this task, and that soon after Cole made a special 
report, in which he said : "Buffalo is poorly protected : one 
regiment and a battalion of invalids. The regiment is at 
Camp Morgan, opposite Port Huron (Fort Erie), and be- 
tween North and South Buffalo, and the battalion doing hos- 
pital duty and guarding the stores. There is a very large 
amount of government stores there, a large quantity of am- 
munition in United States arsenal, and also some cannon, 
mortars, and small arms. The arsenal is situated on Oak 
Street." Somewhat similar information is supplied about 
other cities, especially regarding access to them from the 
lakes, and the writer adds : "I have formed the acquaintance 
of Capt. Carter, commanding United States ship Michigan. 
He is an unpolished man, whose pride seems to be touched 
for the reason that, having been an old United States naval 
officer, he is not allowed now a more extensive field of opera- 
tion. 17 I do not think that he can be bought." Hines fur- 
ther says that Lieut. Bennett H. Young, who later was at the 
head of the St. Albans raiders, was sent to Sandusky to re- 
port to Cole for duty and to provide him with the necessary 

Cole's assertion to Thompson that he held a commission 
in the Confederate navy was one of his numerous false- 
hoods. 18 At a later time, according to Maj. Stiles, there was 
a report among the Confederate officers that Cole 19 had been 
in both the Northern and Southern armies and had deserted 
from both, but the only positive statement the writer can 
make about his history is that he had belonged to Gen. For- 

17. Possibly Carter's appointment to the command of the Michigan was 
due to the fact that he was a Virginian by birth; but there never seems to 
have been any question of his entire loyalty. Laura G. Sanford's "History of 
Erie County, Pa.," quotes him (p. 342) as saying: "In early manhood my 
allegiance was given to my country, not my state, and to it I earnestly adhere." 
He held the rank of Commodore on the retired list when he died in Brooklyn, 
Nov. 24, 1870. 

1 8. Secretary Mallory said Cole was not an officer in the Confederate 
navy. See Southern Bivouac, v. 2, p. 702, April, 1887. 

19. At the trial of Merrick and Rosenthal, of which more hereafter, Maj. 
R. J. Persons of the Fifth Tennessee Infantry testified that Cole had been a lieu- 
tenant in his regiment, that he had been cashiered in December, 1863, and that 
he (Persons) always knew him to be a consummate liar. See Cleveland Leader, 
June 16, 1865. 


rest's command, had been taken prisoner, and had in Mem- 
phis, in April, 1864, taken his parole 20 not to give aid or 
comfort to an enemy of the United States, swearing alle- 
giance thereto and receiving in consequence permission to 
proceed to Harrisburg, Pa., which he gave as the home of 
his parents, on condition that he should report to the pro- 
vost-marshal there. He is well remembered at Sandusky, 
where he appeared accompanied by a woman whom he some- 
times introduced as his wife, 21 but who was recognized by 
some of the officers of the Michigan as a person of dubious 
reputation. He stayed at the West House and cultivated 
with some success the acquaintance of army and navy offi- 
cers. There appeared in the Philadelphia Press of Jan. 29, 
1882, a long article by T. A. Burr reprinted, in whole or in 
part, in the 22 Fire Lands Pioneer (Norwalk, O.) for June, 
1882 professing to be based on Cole's revelations, in which 
he is said to have represented himself as secretary of the 
Mount Hope Oil Company, of which Ex-President Fillmore 
(whom he calls Judge Fillmore) was president. He also 
asserts that he succeeded in getting two Confederates en- 
listed as seamen on the Michigan and ten more as soldiers on 
the Johnson's Island guard. But the article embraces so 
many absurdities such as a visit to the Michigan by Jacob 
Thompson disguised in petticoats and so much self-evident 
fiction, that it would not be safe to accept a word of it as true 
without other support. Mr. Clark Rude of Sandusky recalls 
the fact that Cole succeeded in depositing a large sum of 

20. O. R., ser. 2, v. 8, p. 708. 

21. The "Official Records" refer to her as Annie Cole; John Wilson 
Murray in his "Memoirs of a Great Detective," calls her "Irish Lize"; in the 
prosecution of Merrick and Rosenthal she figures as Anna Brown, and Cole 
himself, though styling her Annie Davis in the lying story he told Burr, in one 
instance refers to her as Belle Brandon. See Cleveland Leader, June 16, 1865. 

22. This article also forms the basis of one by Frederick Boyd Stevenson 
in Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly for September, 1898, but Stevenson was a 
native of Sandusky and avoided a few of the absurdities in the Burr article, 
such as the attempt to involve the owner of the West House in Cole's charges. 
Gen. Jubal A. Early took Burr's article seriously enough to write a letter to the 
Lynchburg Virginian contradicting many of its statements. His letter was re- 
printed in the "Southern Historical Society Papers," v. 10, pp. 154-8, April, 
1882. He supposed Burr was a Confederate, but he was a Michigan cavalry- 
man and had been a Detroit newsboy. 


money in a local bank, with which Mr. Rude was connected, 
with the unusual privilege of withdrawing it in gold on 
demand, and that later Lieut. Burke of the regular army 
was much chagrined at the ease with which he had been 
taken in by Cole. 

Capt. James Hunter 23 of Erie, then an acting ensign on 
board the Michigan, tells the writer that Cole, who was in- 
troduced to him at the West House by an army officer, 
offered him the command of the schooner Fremont to take 
a cargo of oil to Liverpool, Hunter having been a salt water 
sailor, if he would leave the Government service, even taking 
him to look over the schooner. Cole so pursued Hunter with 
his attentions as to arouse the latter's suspicions, which 
assumed the form that he was a counterfeiter. On two occa- 
sions Cole sent cases of wine aboard the Michigan, once to 
an ensign from Oswego named Pavey, with whom he was 
especially intimate, and once to the wardroom officers gen- 
erally. These attentions were magnified by the people 
ashore, and to this day Sandusky has traditions that he really 
did win over to his scheme some of the ship's people. One 
tale that was telegraphed to the New York papers, after the 
exposure, represents an engineer as having been induced to 
disable the steamer's machinery, and well-informed San- 
dusky people even yet believe that Cole was to give a dinner 
party aboard the Michigan on the night for which her cap- 
ture was planned. Possibly some of these rumors of treach- 
ery or slack discipline reached naval officers elsewhere, for 
when, two months after the event about to be related, Lieut.- 
Com. Francis A. Roe succeeded "J a k" Carter in command 
of the Michigan he was much dissatisfied with the conditions 
he found aboard. Writing of those days thirty years later, 2 * 
he professes gradually to have improved the discipline and 

23. Capt. Hunter's account of his relations with Cole was given to the 
writer by word of mouth, but later, at the request of Commander Charles 
Baird, U. S. N., he put it in shape, with the assistance of John Miller of Erie, 
for publication in the Erie Dispatch of Feb. 19, 1905. Practically the same 
article was published in the National Tribune of Washington for June 29, 1905. 

24. United Service, n. s., v. 6, pp. 544-52, December, 1891. In his article 
Admiral Roe commends the humanity of the Johnson's Island prison manage- 
ment and seems impressed with the idea that Buffalo was in considerable peril. 


efficiency of the ship, although he does not hint that at anv 
time he suspected officer or man of treachery. 

AS a matter of fact, the writer has found no evidence 
whatever for all these rumors, the ''Official Records" are 
silent on the subject, and the survivors, who should know 
most about the matter, either scout at the stories or ignore 
them. It is true that Commander Carter got rid of Pavey 
before the plot was disclosed, but this was apparently in con- 
sequence of the ensign's too convivial habits. Despite Cole's 
boast of acquaintanceship with Carter, the latter 25 apparently 
never heard of Cole until the day he caused his arrest. The 
Michigan's commander rarely went ashore and was so far 
from being the kind of a man that could be won by Cole's 
bibulous diplomacy that, as Capt. Hunter says, he was more 
likely to contribute five dollars to some religious cause than 
to expend it in revelry. To Hunter himself Cole became 
decidedly offensive by his reflections on Carter because of 
Pavey's transfer to the coast, by his presuming manners 
when they were once thrown together on a railway journey, 
and especially by Cole's presentation of Hunter to the West 
House woman as Mrs. Cole. This conspirator's service at 
Sandusky to the Confederacy, large as it looms in the news- 
paper stories inspired by himself, seems actually to have been 
confined to the expenditure of a considerable portion of its 
revenue over the bar of the West House. 

A man of very different character was John Yates Beall, 
whom Jacob Thompson fatuously put under the nominal 
command of Cole. His memoir has been written by his 
roommate at the University of Virginia, Judge Daniel B. 
Lucas 26 of West Virginia, by whom it was published anony- 
mously at Montreal in 1865. Beall belonged to an old family 
in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and owned one of the 

25- John Wilson Murray, now chief detective under the Ontario Govern- 
ment, who was then an acting gunner on board the Michigan, is the subject of a 
book by Victor Speer of Buffalo ("Memoirs of a Great Detective," Baker & 
Taylor Co., 1904), in which it is related that by Carter's instruction Murray 
followed Cole about the country, in an endeavor to unravel his plot, and ulti- 
mately bore the leading part in his arrest. Not only are Murray's names and 
dates hopelessly astray, but Ensign Hunter, who actually arrested Cole, declares 
that Murray had nothing whatever to do with the matter. Furthermore, there 


finest farms in that romantic region. He was an earnest, 
not to say fanatical young fellow with strong religious con- 
victions, one of a type that is peculiarly dangerous in times 
of strife, because in such men all ordinary scruples are sub- 
jected to a stern sense of duty that knows not fear and re- 
jects even reasonable precautions. One gets an idea of his 
seriousness from Judge Lucas's testimony that he never 
played a game of billiards in his life. He had seen some 
service as a private under Stonewall Jackson and, having 
been seriously wounded in October, 1861, had made his way 
north to Iowa, where he had a brother and where he had 
embarked in business as a miller in Cascade, Dubuque 
County, under the name of Yates. The discovery that he 
was a Confederate caused his departure for Canada in No- 
vember, 1862, and he spent a couple of months in Dundas, 
Ont, going thence south by way of Cincinnati and Balti- 
more in January, 1863. His biographer thinks it was he 
who, during this visit to Richmond, "in conjunction with a 
gallant young officer of the Confederate army," first sug- 
gested to the authorities the scheme for releasing the pris- 
oners on Johnson's Island and destroying the cities on the 
southern shores of the Great Lakes, for which Lieut. Mur- 
daugh gets the credit in the "Official Records." The project 
having been temporarily laid aside, and Beall having been 
discharged from military service on account of his wound, 
he received a commission in the Confederate navy as an 
acting master and, with two small boats and a dozen men, he 
embarked in privateering operations on the lower Potomac 
and York rivers and Chesapeake Bay, cutting telegraph 
cables, destroying lighthouses, and capturing small trading 
vessels and fishing scows. One of the exploits of the party 

seems to be no reason to believe that Cole was under any suspicion of being a 
Confederate agent until Commander Carter received the warning dispatches from 
Detroit given in the text. 

26. Judge Lucas, who has been president of the West Virginia Supreme 
Court of Appeals, was in 1887 appointed to a vacancy in the United States 
Senate, but before the time came for him to take his seat the Legislature elected 
Charles J. Faulkner in his place. His memoir of Beall must have been pre- 
pared with much care, for the developments of forty years fail to show any 
serious inaccuracies of statement. 


was the capture in September near Eastville, on the Eastern 
Shore of Virginia, of four schooners, one of which was 
loaded with sutler's stores. 27 Their depredations became so 
annoying that when in November a force of volunteers from 
the Eastern Shore of Maryland succeeded in taking Beall 
and fourteen men during one of their raids across Chesa- 
peake Bay, the matter was considered of some importance, 
and the captors were commended for good conduct in gen- 
eral orders by authority of Gen. Schenck. As the prisoners 
were a partisan force, receiving no pay from the Confederacy 
but subsisting on what they captured from the enemy, thev 
were taken to Fort McHenry in irons and so held for forty- 
two days, there being some talk of putting them on trial, 
either before a military commission or a civil jury of loyal 
Virginians. The Confederate Government, however, retali- 
ated by confining in irons two officers and seventeen men of 
the Union navy, and the upshot was that Beall's men were 
placed on the footing of prisoners of war and ultimately ex- 
changed, their leader reaching Richmond in May, 1864. 

After a brief visit to his affianced wife in Columbus, Ga., 
refusing a lieutenancy in the Secret Service, Beall partici- 
pated as a volunteer in the fighting about Mechanicsville for 
some days, but soon became discouraged by the condition of 
his health and the neglect of his superiors. Leaving the 
camp on the Chickahominy, he crossed over from Matthews 
County, the chief scene of his former maritime exploits, to 
the Eastern Shore and made his way through Baltimore to 
Canada. August found him in Dundas again, and his diary 
says that he at once reported to Jacob Thompson in Toronto 
and asked for the command of a privateer on Lake Huron. 
Thompson told him of a plan to capture the Michigan and 
release the Johnson's Island prisoners, and Beall volunteered 
to participate. His diary says that he also went to Sandusky 

27. For the Chesapeake Bay operations of Beall and Burley, see O. R., 
r. i, v. 2g> pt . i, pp. i 39 , 639; v. 33, pp. 231 . 2; v . 37, pt. i, p. 72; sen 2, 
v 6, pp. 705. 825, 979. But Col. Draper's statement that Maxwell was killed 
Burley was captured is incorrect, for Judge Lucas informs the writer 
t Maxwell occupied an official position under the Richmond municipal gov- 
ernment in 1888, and the Judge presumes that he is still (1906) living. 


and had a consultation with Cole, betaking himself thence to 
Windsor on the Detroit River. Jacob Thompson was staying 
in the same neighborhood. 


Somewhere in Canada Beall had unexpectedly fallen in 
with Bennett G. Burley, whom he had known in his Chesa- 
peake Bay privateering enterprises, and he was readily 
enlisted in the new undertaking, being a born adventurer, 
if ever one lived. As "Bennet Burleigh" he is now a war cor- 
respondent of world-wide fame, having been connected with 
the London Telegraph since 1882. He was present at Tel- 
el-Kebir in the first Egyptian war, with the French in 
Madagascar, accompanied the desert column from Korti to 
Metammah in 1884, participated in the Ashanti and Atbara 
expeditions, was at Omdurman, won fame in South Africa 
by securing a long interview with Gen. Joubert, and proved 
himself one of the most successful of newspaper correspond- 
ents in Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese war. An 
ardent Socialist, he has several times been a labor candi- 
date in Glasgow for Parliament. So abstemious that he 
abjures tobacco and drinks nothing stronger than soda- 
water, wonderful tales are told of his powers of physical 
endurance even at his present age, such as that he has, 
after spending a day watching a battle, ridden sixty miles, 
written a long and brilliant dispatch, and got it first through. 
It is no wonder that forty years ago his feats of vigor 
attracted attention, especially when he had the telling of 
them himself, and we can be confident that they lost noth- 
ing of their picturesqueness in his narrative. 

He was the son of a Glasgow master mechanic, and 
when he appeared in Richmond, although then but twenty- 
two, he had, according to the Toronto Globe, 28 already 

28. Quoted by the Buffalo Courier, Feb. 7, 1865, p. 2. 


served in Italy both on the side of the Garibaldians and 
against them. He brought to the Confederacy the design 
for a torpedo which had to be attached to the side of the 
vessel attacked with screws and then be ignited by a fuse, 
and Judge Lucas says that Burley and another Scotch- 
man, John Maxwell, actually did fasten such a contriv- 
ance to a Federal vessel, but the fuse would not burn. 
The torpedo was afterwards exhibited at the corner of 
Fulton and Nassau streets, New York. Burley received 
a commission as an acting master in the Confederate navy, 
and Judge Lucas says he was one of the earliest recruits 
secured by Beall for his privateering operations. 

In March, 1864, a party of what might be described 
as veritable horse marines, for they were all cavalrymen 
except Burley and Maxwell and were commanded by a 
cavalry officer, Capt. Thaddeus Fitzhugh, performed the 
exploit of crossing Chesapeake Bay to Cherrystone, North- 
ampton County, and capturing the entire guard there, a 
large supply of stores, two steamers and a schooner, besides 
inflicting other damage on the Union cause by cutting 
cables. But in May a small force of colored infantry under 
a sergeant, who were hunting for torpedoes near the mouth 
of the Rappahannock, killed four of the horse marines and 
captured Burley, on whose person was found a British 
protection and a pass authorizing him to go beyond the 
Confederate lines. As this seemed to furnish evidence 
that he was expected to act as a spy, over and above the 
irregularity of the service in which he was engaged, he 
was taken to Fort Delaware, forty miles below Philadel- 
phia, whence he and a companion escaped through a drain, 
the water in which came up to the sleepers supporting the 
plank covering, so that they had to dive under the sleepers 
for the length of the drain, twenty-five yards, and then 
swim the river in the face of a swift tide. Six prisoners 
made the attempt in pairs, but Burley and his companion, 
whom he had to help, were the only ones to get away, the 
captain of a schooner which picked them up in mid-river 


professing to accept their story that they had been cap- 
sized while on a fishing excursion and taking them to 
Philadelphia. Two of the others were recaptured at the 
mouth of the drain, and two were drowned in the Dela- 
ware. Burley reached Canada in safety and doubtless told 
this story after the war was over to Judge Lucas, who 
prints it in his memoir of Beall. 

Sunday evening, September 18, 1864, at Detroit, Bur- 
ley stepped on board the Philo Parsons, a small steamer 
plying between Sandusky and Detroit, and asked the clerk, 
Walter O. Ashley, to stop the next day at Sandwich on 
the Canadian side of the river to take on board three 
friends of his, one of whom was lame and could not well 
cross the ferry. Ashley consented on condition that Bur- 
ley should himself board the boat at Detroit. Monday 
morning, accordingly, Burley started with the boat from 
Detroit, and at Sandwich three men, one of whom was 
Beall, jumped on. Further down the river at Amherst- 
burgh, which is also on the Canadian side, sixteen roughly 
dressed men, with an old trunk tied with a rope, came on 
board. These appeared to have no relations with the Beall 
and Burley party and were taken for returning Ameri- 
cans who had run away from the draft. At Middle Bass 
Island Capt. Atwood, the master of the Parsons, went 
ashore, his home being there, leaving the steamer in charge 
of the mate and of Ashley, who was a part owner. 

At about 4 p. M., a landing having just been made at 
Kelly's Island, which is well within the United States line, 
being only about eleven miles from Sandusky, Beall inter- 
rupted a conversation he had been conducting with the 
mate at the wheel by drawing a pistol and telling that 
surprised person that as a Confederate officer he took pos- 
session of the steamer. At the same time three of the con- 
spirators leveled their revolvers at Ashley, and Burley, com- 
ing aft with a number of others, ordered the clerk on pain 
of death to get into the cabin. Thither all the passengers, 
numbering some twenty-five, were also driven, two armed 


guards stationing themselves at the door. The old trunk 
was brought out and opened, its contents proving to be 
hatchets and revolvers, with which the captors of the boat 
proceeded to equip themselves, while Burley partially cleared 
the deck by throwing overboard some freight consisting 
of iron and a sulky. 

The mate, Nicholls, continued to keep the steamer on 
her course toward Sandusky, under the direction of Beall, 
and, as he afterward testified, at about five o'clock had 
reached a point from which they had a clear view into the 
harbor, where the Michigan was plainly visible. In the 
meantime he had been asked many questions about the 
warship and had said, in reply to an inquiry, that the Par- 
sons did not have enough fuel on board to take her very 
far. He was therefore instructed to turn her about and 
head for Middle Bass Island, and while she was lying at 
the wharf there, taking on wood, Beall and Burley accom- 
panied the clerk to his office and compelled him to give up 
the boat's papers and such money as he had on board, 
something like $100, though they allowed him to keep 
certain papers which he claimed as personal property. 

Presently appeared alongside a smaller steamer, the Isl- 
and Queen, which ran between Sandusky and this group 
of islands, having on board a number of unarmed Federal 
soldiers on their way to Toledo to be mustered out. As 
she unsuspiciously moored to the Parsons some of Beall 's 
men jumped on board and demanded her surrender. There 
was a discharge of pistols, and Henry Haines, the Queen's 
engineer, was shot in the face, the wound causing him so 
much annoyance in after years that he tried in vain to get 
a pension on account of it. Several persons were knocked 
down by blows from hatchets, one of which caused a pro- 
fuse loss of blood, but this was the limit of physical injury 
inflicted. The people on board the Queen were stowed 
away, some in the cabin and some in the hold of the Par- 
sons, but presently the passengers of both boats were 
sent ashore, as were most of the two crews, a few men 


being retained to handle the Parsons. The Union sol- 
diers were paroled not to bear arms against the Southern 
Confederacy until duly exchanged, and the civilians were 
required to promise that they would say nothing of what 
had happened for twenty-four hours. Then the two steam- 
ers, lashed abreast, got under way, but when about five 
miles from the island the Queen was scuttled and set adrift, 
sinking on Chickanolee Reef. 

The Parsons proceeded a part of the way toward San- 
dusky, but there was anxiety on board over the failure to 
receive an expected message or signal from Cole. Judge 
Lucas, who probably got his information from Burley, 
intimates that a rocket was to have been sent up from John- 
son's Island. The Sandusky people tell of some intended 
signal from the cupola of the West House, which stands 
only a few rods from the bay. But the most reasonable 
version is that given in the report of the affair by Jacob 
Thompson to Secretary Benjamin, 29 according to which 
Cole was to have had a messenger meet Beall at Kelly's 
Island with directions as to further movements. The later 
investigations of Gen. Dix indicated that four men, one 
of whom had been pretending to sell sewing machines on 
Kelly's Island, did join the conspirators when the Parsons 
touched there, but evidently the desired message did not 
come, for Beall's followers lost faith in their power to 
capture with hatchets and pistols even so feeble a man-of- 
war as the Michigan, all except Burky and two others 
refusing to carry the enterprise any further. Judge Lucas 
represents Beall as furious over this mutiny, as he regarded 
it ; and as insisting, when he found his followers were not 
to be moved by argument, expostulation, or threat, that 
they should put their resolution into writing as a proof of 
their own insubordination and as a vindication of himself. 

29. O. R., sen i, v. 43, pt. 2, pp. 930-6. Reprinted in O. R. (N), ser. i. 
v. 3, p. 714. Thompson's letter is dated Toronto, Dec. 3, 1864. It is preceded 
(p. 914) by an unsigned letter from St. Catharines, dated November ist, prob- 
ably by his colleague, C. C. Clay, which, however, adds only misinformation 
regarding the raid. Gen. Dix says Thompson was at Col. Steele's house near 
Sandwich so late as September i7th. 


Accordingly the following 30 was drawn up on the back 
of a bill of lading and signed by those whose names are 
appended : 


September 20, 1864. 

We the undersigned, crew of the boat aforesaid, take pleasure in 
expressing our admiration of the gentlemanly bearing, skill, and 
courage of Captain John Y. Beall as a commanding officer and a 
gentleman, but believing and being well convinced that the enemy is 
already apprised of our approach, and is so well prepared that we 
cannot by any possibility make it a success, and having already cap- 
tured two boats, we respectfully decline to prosecute it any further. 









With great reluctance on the part of Beall, who, Judge 
Lucas says, maintained during the short remainder of his 
life that the plot would have succeeded but for what he 
styled the cowardice of the mutineers, the prow of the 
Parsons was turned in the direction of the Detroit River, 
and the frightened people of the islands, who were out 
burying their valuables, saw her rushing past in the dark- 
ness "like a scared pickerel." 31 An incident of the journey 

30. Given in Thomas H. Hines's account of "The Northwestern Con- 
spiracy," Southern Bivouac, v. 2, p. 700, April, 1887. 

31. In her account of the raid, Harper's Magazine, v. 47, p. 32, June, 
1873, Constance F. Woolson quotes this phrase as if used at the time. She 
says the raiders asked Capt. Orr of the Island Queen if many strangers had 
come to Sandusky that morning, and if there was any excitement there. This 
apparently refers to the force that Cole was expected but evidently failed to 
collect. The passengers are quoted as being favorably impressed by Beall, but as 
describing Burley as a "perfect desperado" in appearance. But in a note to the 
writer Judge Henry B. Brown says of Burley: "I was quite taken with him 
when I had him in the House of Correction at Detroit and was rather glad 
when he finally escaped." This agrees with the impression he created when in 
custody at Port Clinton, as will be seen later on. There was, however, a wide 
difference in the point of view. 


was the partial hoisting by the mate, under compulsion, of 
a Confederate flag for doubtless the first and last time on 
a vessel plying the waters of Lake Erie. When the Par- 
sons entered the mouth of the Detroit River it was inti- 
mated that some vessels near by would have been boarded, 
had not the party reached Canadian waters, and there was 
some talk of going ashore and burning the house on Grosse 
Isle of a Detroit banker named Ives. A small boat laden 
with plunder from the Parsons was sent ashore about three 
miles above Maiden (Amherstburgh), and at Fighting Isl- 
and, about 8 o'clock Tuesday morning, most of the pris- 
oners still detained aboard, including Capt. Orr of the 
Queen and Mate Nichols of the Parsons, were landed. At 
Sandwich the steamer tied up, and a pianoforte, mirrors, 
chairs, trunks, and bedclothes having been put ashore, and 
the engineer having been compelled to cut the injection 
pipe, so that the boat would sink, she was abandoned, and 
the raiders disappeared. Two who were arrested by the 
Canadian authorities were discharged by justices of the 
peace after a detention of a couple of hours, though the 
customs officials were sufficiently vigilant to seize some of 
the American property that had been landed, on the ground 
that it had paid no duty. The damage to the Parsons was 
estimated at $6,000, and that to the Queen at $3,000, but 
both boats were running again in about a week. The Par- 
sons, however, made no more landings on the Canadian 
side and naturally carried few passengers during the re- 
mainder of the season. 


Just how Beall purposed to carry the Michigan has never 
been satisfactorily cleared up. To approach her the Par- 
sons would have had to take a course so different from 
that she usually followed in entering Sandusky Bay as 
to have aroused suspicion on the warship, which lay off 


the island for the very purpose of guarding against an 
attack of this character. One of the first things she had 
done on her arrival was to take the bearings of the channel 
entrance so as to get the exact elevation and range for her 
fifteen guns, which consisted of a 68-pounder smooth bore 
Paxton mounted forward on a pivot, six 3<D-pounder rifled 
Parrotts forward on the spar deck, six 25-pounder Dahl- 
grens aft on the quarter deck, and two 12-pounder howit- 
zers on the hurricane deck. Even if Cole had succeeded in 
his plan of getting some of the officers ashore for a carouse 
and of drugging them, there still would have been left on 
board Capt. Carter himself and two of the three line 
officers, 32 for only one was allowed off duty at a time. Capt. 
Hunter has an ingenious theory that it was intended to set 
fire to the Parsons when she reached the entrance to San- 
dusky Bay. The Michigan would of course have sent boats 
to rescue the supposed passengers, and these Beall's men 
could have captured and with them have surprised the war- 
ship. Capt. Hunter even says that the Parsons had in her 
cargo twenty-five barrels of coal tar, which he learned about 
when the affair was investigated by a federal grand jury 
of Cleveland a month later. The writer has failed to find 
any reference to the tar in contemporary writings on either 
side, but according to a story told a reporter by a watch- 
man on board the Parsons, the latter prepared under Beall's 
directions three combustible balls out of bagging, grease, 
and camphene, and when Gen. Dix examined the steam- 
boat a week after the raid these or something similar were 
shown to him, but he supposed they were intended for use 
in burning either the house of Banker Ives or the Parsons 
herself when she was abandoned at Sandwich. 

But there is no sort of doubt concerning the nature of 
the reception which Beall actually would have met. All 
night the Michigan had lain cleared for action her guns 
shotted, steam on the engine, anchor hove short, officers and 

32. At one time a tug, the Gen. Burnside, manned by a crew from the 
Michigan, did patrol duty in Sandusky Bay; whether she was in service in 
September, 1864, does not appear. 


men at quarters, and all hands straining their eyes to catch 
a glimpse through the darkness of the rebel Parsons. Sat- 
urday, two days before Beall boarded the Parsons, Lieut- 
Col. Bennett H. Hill, commanding the district of Michigan, 
had been called on at Detroit by a man purporting to be a 
Confederate refugee in Canada, who gave him such infor- 
mation that he sent the following dispatch 33 to the Michi- 
gan's commander: 

DETROIT, Sept. 17, 1864. 

It is reported to me that some of the officers and men of your 
steamer have been tampered with, and that a party of rebel refugees 
leave Windsor tomorrow with the expectation of getting possession 
of your steamer. 

B. H. HILL, 
Lieutenant-Colonel, U. S. Army, Military Commander. 

Possibly Hill's informant can be identified with one 
Smith, a former Confederate who kept a hotel in Windsor 
frequented by rebel refugees and who, according to Edward 
A. Sowles's history of the St. Albans raid, on other occa- 
sions contributed information to Federal officials. Who- 
ever he was, he visited Hill again Sunday with such further 
statements as to enable him to telegraph Monday: 

DETROIT, Sept. 19, 1864. 

It is said the parties will embark today at Maiden on board the 
Philo Parsons, and will seize either that steamer or another running 
from Kelly's Island. Since my last dispatch am again assured that 
officers and men have been bought by a man named Cole ; a few men 
to be introduced on board under guise of friends of officers; an 
officer named Eddy to be drugged. Both Commodore Gardner and 
myself look upon the matter as serious. 

B. H. HILL, 
Lieut.-Col, U. S. Army, Acting Assistant Provost-Marshal General. 

Hill visited the Parsons early Monday morning and, 
after mature consideration, decided to let the plot proceed, 
if there were any plot, in order to capture the conspirators, 
rather than to frighten them off by putting an armed force 

33. O. R., ser. 2, v. 7, p. 842. 



aboard the steamer. While this course was not unnatural, 
in view of the frequent false alarms to which the Federal 
authorities were subjected, it must be admitted that it might 
have caused the unnecessary sacrifice of innocent lives. 
Upon receiving Hill's first message Carter had telegraphed 
in reply on Sunday that he was ready, but that the sugges- 
tion of treachery on board the Michigan must be unfounded. 
It was doubtless on the receipt of the second dispatch that 
Carter sent for Hunter, as the latter now recalls that event- 
ful day, and told him that he was to be sent to Detroit. 
Hunter, being an old lake mariner, and having many ac- 
quaintances at the Canadian ports, had on previous occa- 
sions been detailed to watch the maneuvers of rebel refugees, 
and his commander must have had some design of this 
sort in his mind, but while Hunter was eating his dinner 
Capt. Carter adopted a different plan. He again sent for 
Hunter, showed him the dispatch, and asked him about the 
loyalty of the officers and men. The ensign vouched for 
them all except one steward, whom he suspected of eaves- 
dropping. In reply to an inquiry indicating that Carter 
had never heard of Cole before, Hunter told him what he 
knew of that worthy, and after going ashore and arranging 
with Col. Hill to send a force to the railroad station to 
arrest any conspirators that might arrive by train, Capt. 
Carter instructed Ensign Hunter to arrest Cole in such a 
manner as to avoid alarming any accomplices he might have 
in Sandusky. Just before Hunter left the Michigan with 
the barge on this errand a steward who had been ashore 
that morning told him that Cole wanted to see him. On 
reaching the shore Hunter had the barge's bow turned 
towards the lake and, contrary to custom, instructed her 
crew to remain by her, at the same time telling the cox- 
swain, Peter Turley, to follow him and be ready on a signal 
to come to his assistance. 

Cole was found in one of the parlors of the West House 
with the woman, their trunk packed and bill paid in prepara- 
tion for departure. He told Hunter that he wanted three 


of the Michigan's officers, himself included, to participate 
in a dinner party that night at the Seven Mile House, a 
suburban resort. There were to be girls in the party. Hun- 
ter begged off on the false pretense that he was to be on 
duty, but on second thought suggested that Cole should go 
on board with him and see if he could get leave. Hunter 
was invited to take a drink out of the ever-ready demijohn, 
but mindful of what the dispatch had said of drugging his 
fellow ensign, Eddy, the officer made the excuse for not 
swallowing his whisky that his mouth was full of tobacco; 
but after seeing Cole himself drink, and making sure there 
was no pretense about it, he followed his example. Then 
he accompanied Cole to a bank, where the latter drew out 
$900 in gold, Coxswain Turley following in their wake and 
dodging from lamp post to lamp post. After a return to 
the hotel and more drinks in the company of an army officer, 
Hunter took his man by the arm and walked in a friendly 
way to the wharf where lay the barge, on reaching which 
he gave Cole a vigorous push that tumbled him into the 
boat, Hunter and the coxswain following immediately, the 
former shouting an order to "Give way." 

Cole, who had no notion of risking his neck aboard the 
Michigan, protested vigorously and insisted on being put 
ashore, but Hunter told him he was a prisoner, which Cole 
would not believe, or pretended he would not, and offered 
to treat the boat's crew, counting up the eleven of them and 
remarking that it would take a whole gallon of whisky. To 
this Coxswain Turley, who had no business to say anything, 
replied: "You have not money enough in your pocket to 
treat us today," whereupon the prisoner seemed to lose the 
courage which had hitherto supported him. 

On reaching the ship Cole was taken to the Commander's 
cabin, where he offered to explain everything in five minutes 
in private, but Capt. Carter refused to permit Hunter to 
go away, instructing him to search the prisoner while he 
covered him with Cole's own revolver. Among the papers 
found was Cole's commission as a major in a Tennessee 


regiment. On the strength of other papers found on him, 
as Hunter says, or of his admissions, as the "Official Rec- 
ords" have it, several supposed accomplices in Sandusky 
were also arrested. A young fellow named Robinson, who 
was little better than half witted, was detained with Cole 
until long after the war closed ; of the others, Dr. Stanley ; 
Strain, a hardware merchant ; Williams, his former partner, 
and one Brown were released in a few days, and if they 
had any criminal secret they carried it to their graves, but 
the belief in Sandusky seems to be that they were guilty 
of nothing worse than an imprudently expressed sympathy 
with the South. The remaining two, J. B. Merrick and 
Lewis Rosenthal, were tried on a charge of conspiracy in 
June, 1865, before a United States court in Cleveland, the 
principal witnesses against them being Cole, Robinson, and 
the woman who had lived with Cole at the West House, 
but the evidence of this precious trio was so lightly regarded 
that they were acquitted. 34 It is said in Sandusky that it 
was afterwards discovered that Rosenthal, who was a Jew- 
ish clothier, had come thither from Richmond. 

The arrest of Cole was effected about 3 p. M., and while 
it was in progress Acting Master Martin, the executive 
officer of the Michigan, had by Capt. Carter's command got 
the ship ready for action. All night a keen watch was kept 
for the Parsons, but nothing was seen of her, which is 
inexplicable in view of the testimony of her mate that those 
on board at one time caught a glimpse of the Michigan. At 
daylight the latter got under way and began a search for 
the "pirate." At Kelly's Island, where she touched, the 
people had been so thoroughly frightened by the events of 
Monday that none of them showed themselves, and there 
was nobody to take the Michigan's line until the huge form 
of her pilot 35 was recognized, and the people on shore were 

34- The Cleveland papers of June 14-16, 1865, contain the only informa- 
tion concerning the trial of Merrick and Rosenthal that the writer has been 
able to find. 

35- His name was William Hinton, and Capt. Hunter says he weighed 
300 pounds and had a voice in proportion to his builk. He was pilot of 

Michigan for over twenty years and was widely known on the Great Lakes. 


thus assured that she was still in the hands of her rightful 
crew. The islanders 36 could give no information regarding 
the Parsons, and the Michigan continued her way north- 
ward, picking up in rowboats Ashley, the clerk, and a son 
of John Brown of Ossawatomie, both of whom were on 
their way to Sandusky to give the alarm. At the mouth of 
the Detroit River nothing could be learned from vessels 
which had just come down, and Capt. Carter called a con- 
sultation of officers in his cabin, at which Hunter expressed 
the opinion that they had left without authority the island 
which it was their duty to guard and had better go back 
to their station at once. Capt. Carter accepted this view, 
and the Michigan proceeded toward Sandusky, catching a 
sight on the way of the sunken Island Queen on Chickeno- 
lee Reef. It was with a feeling of much relief that as the 
Michigan entered the bay at about 3 p. M. her officers saw 
the stars and stripes still waving over Johnson's Island. 37 
On the arrival of Gen. Dix, commanding the Department 
of the East, a few days later, Cole was sent ashore to the 

In a history of the Michigan read before the Erie County (Pa.) Historical 
Society March 7, 1905, by Captain William B. Brooks, U. S. N., and im- 
perfectly printed in the Erie Dispatch of March 12, 1905, reference is made to 
the participation of Hinton in the arrest of James J. Strang, the Mormon king 
of Beaver Island, in 1853. Capt. Brooks is one of the two surviving officers of 
the Michigan when she carried Strang to Detroit. 

36. Mrs. Francis C. Clark of Pacific Grove, Monterey Co., Cal., was living 
on South Bass Island at the time and describes the fright of the people as ex- 
treme, in a letter to Capt. Hunter. A young man came to her father's house 
about ten in the evening, exclaiming: "Oh, Doctor, come quick; my mother is 
in spasms. The rebs have captured the Parsons and the Queen, and there is no 
knowing how many are on the island." She admits being frightened herself, 
although she could not believe there were any Confederates on South Bass, 
knowing that they had more important business elsewhere. Her husband was one 
of the party that started with Capt. John Brown, Jr., for Johnson's Island to 
give the alarm. She afterwards saw Cole in custody on Johnson's Island and 
has always wondered why he was not hanged. 

37. Col. Charles W. Hill reported to the Washington authorities that the 
Michigan went out at daylight and returned about 3, adding, "I have one thirty 
and six twenty-pounder Parrotts and three twelve-pounder howitzers on the 
island, and a six-gun light battery, New York, at Sandusky, and by calling in 
my fatigue parties, extra duty men, and recruits, could have a force of near 
900 available men on the island as infantry and heavy artillery." O. R., ser. 
i v. 39, pt. 2, p. 428. 


island, where for a time he was kept in a tent by himself 
under guard. 

The remainder of his story is soon told. At the end of 
the month he was taken to Cleveland, with Robinson, who 
is supposed to have been the messenger through whom he 
communicated with the Canadian plotters, to be examined 
before a grand jury. Hunter and others told their story to 
the authorities, but no indictment seems to have been framed, 
presumably from lack of other evidence than Cole's own, 
which was worthless even against himself. In the summer 
of 1865 a representative of the national Department of Jus- 
tice investigated his case and made a report 38 thereon, the 
gist of which was that he was clearly guilty of several 
offenses, the least of which was a breach of his parole, but 
that it would be difficult to convict him of a share in the 
Confederate plot. In consequence he was transferred to 
Fort Lafayette, where Major Stiles had the misfortune to 
be lodged in the same casemate with him and to witness 
his coaching of the half imbecile Robinson as to the lies 
the latter should tell when their cases came to trial. 39 The 
Major had been on Johnson's Island with Cole and had the 
strongest aversion to him. In fact, he says that a greater 
scoundrel and reprobate never went unhung, and he would 
have remonstrated against being confined with him, had not 
Robinson, who was in mortal terror of Cole, literally on his 
knees besought the Major not to leave him alone with that 
man. In February, 1866, Cole was released 40 on habeas cor- 
pus proceedings by a Brooklyn judge, and he thenceforth 
fades out of history, except that in the Philadelphia Press 
article to which reference has been made he is represented 
as having served under Maximilian in Mexico and as having 
later become a railroad promoter in Texas ; but Galveston 
newspaper people, of whom inquiry was made, never heard 
of him, and the Press article, being professedly based on 
Cole's own statements, is entitled to no credit when uncon- 
firmed by other evidence. 

38. O. R., ser. 2, v. 8, p. 708. 

39. Communication from the late Maj. Stiles to the writer. 

40. O. R., ser. 2, v. 8, p. 881. 



A far more tragic fate was that of Beall. His move- 
ments after the Lake Erie affair cannot be followed closely, 
but in December he participated in repeated attempts to 
wreck passenger trains on the Lake Shore Railroad just 
outside of Buffalo. These exploits were conducted by Col. 
Martin of the Fourteenth Kentucky Cavalry, the organizer 
of the conspiracy to burn New York City, and it was after- 
wards asserted that the real object was the liberation of 
Gens. Cabell and Marmaduke and other prominent Con- 
federate prisoners who were on their way from Johnson's 
Island to Fort Warren in Boston Harbor, which might be 
accepted as plausible but for the fact that three separate 
attempts were made on the evenings of December loth, 
nth, and I5th. The purpose probably in view was the 
robbery of the express car, and it is only fair, when Beall's 
general character is taken into consideration, to presume 
that he was endeavoring to procure the means to undertake 
other enterprises similar to that against the Michigan, and 
that his own enrichment formed no part of his plan. 

Beall was arrested on the evening of December i6th 
in the railroad station at Suspension Bridge, on his way 
back from Buffalo to Canada, in company with George S. 
Anderson, a young Confederate soldier, a native of Pitts- 
sylvania County, Va., who had been Col. Martin's courier 
in Morgan's cavalry, and who ultimately turned state's 
evidence against Beall, although, according to Judge Lucas, 
it was in consequence of Beall's solicitude in Anderson's 
behalf that the arrest took place, the other members of the 
party having at Beall's suggestion walked across the bridge 
in safety, while he himself waited with Anderson for a 
train. All that the raiders had accomplished had been to 
place across the track five or six miles west of Buffalo a 
rail which the train had struck without injury. When 
arrested Beall and Anderson were supposed to be merely 
escaped Confederate prisoners and were so described in 
the newspapers, but the former was speedily identified. 


A rather touching story about this identification is told 
in Sandusky, which, however, does not appear in the offi- 
cial account of Beall's trial. It seems that there had been 
among the passengers of the Philo Parsons a woman with 
a sick child in her arms, who, when the other passengers 
were ordered into the cabin or hold, pleaded so piteously 
with Beall that her baby would die if not permitted to 
remain out on deck, where it could inhale fresh air, that 
he yielded to her entreaties. When taken to New York, 
where Beall was confined and ushered into his presence, this 
woman began to thank him profusely for his consideration 
on that occasion. It was in vain that poor Beall protested 
that she was mistaken and that she had never before in her 
life seen him. The woman insisted on expressing her grati- 
tude until Beall gave up the point and asked after the 
child's health. The woman need not have suffered any dis- 
tress from the thought that she had unwittingly contributed 
to her benefactor's doom, for without her evidence the iden- 
tification of the prisoner was complete. 

He was brought to trial before a military commission 
February i, 1865, on charges of violation of the laws of 
war and of acting as a spy. The commission, which held its 
sessions at Fort Lafayette, consisted of Brigadier-Gens. 
Fitz Henry Warren and W. H. Morris, Cols. M. S. Howe 
and H. Day, Lieut.-Col. R. F. O'Bierne, and Maj. G. W. 
Wallace, with Maj. John A. Bolles acting as Judge Advo- 
cate. James T. Brady, one of the most eminent lawyers in 
New York, volunteered to act as the prisoner's counsel. 
The various specifications charged Beall with seizing the 
Philo Parsons, with carrying on warfare as a guerilla, and 
with acting as a spy in Ohio and New York, and on Feb- 
ruary 8th he was convicted on all of them except one, which 
charged him with acting as a spy at Suspension Bridge, 
his punishment being fixed at death by hanging. Power- 
ful efforts were made by Northern friends of Beall to save 
his life, and if Gen. Dix could have been induced to recom- 
mend a mitigation of the penalty, President Lincoln would 


have granted it. Gen. Roger A. Pryor, who had been con- 
fined at Fort Lafayette with Beall and to whom Beall be- 
queathed his diary, was now at liberty and secured an 
interview with the President in order to intercede for the 
condemned man. Mrs. Pryor's "Reminiscences of Peace 
and War," says: "Although Mr. Lincoln evinced the sin- 
cerest compassion for the young man, and an extreme aver- 
sion to his death, he felt constrained to yield to the assur- 
ance of Gen. Dix, in a telegram just received, that the exe- 
cution was indispensable to the security of the North- 
ern cities it being believed, though erroneously, that Capt. 
Beall was implicated in the burning of the New York 
hotels." Judge Lucas says that the President's response to 
all applications from the first was: "Gen. Dix may dis- 
pose of the case as he pleases I will not interfere." The 
opinion has since been expressed that the Lake Erie offense 
might have been overlooked, but that the attempt at train 
wrecking put the offender beyond the reach of mercy. The 
Rev. Dr. Henry J. Van Dyke of Brooklyn, father of the 
present Rev. Dr. Henry J. Van Dyke, visited Beall in his 
cell at Fort Columbus the day before his execution and 
wrote a letter to a Southern friend in which he described 
his bearing with the highest sort of praise and even called 
him a martyr. 41 Beall was hanged on Governor's Island, 
February 24th, a respite from the i8th having been granted 
to enable his mother to come North and visit him, as was 
stated at the time, though Judge Lucas says the real reason 
for the delay was to permit the commission which tried him 
to amend its finding on some disputed point. But whatever 
the purpose, the postponement did allow a final interview 
with his mother. Beall met his fate manfully and in a way 
that increased the respect already felt for him by his cus- 
todians. It is a curious fact that the gallows used on this 
occasion was that on which Gordon, the only man ever 
hanged for being a slaver, had suffered. Once in awhile 
a story goes the rounds of the newspapers connecting the 
assassination of Lincoln with Beall's execution, and a Phila- 

41. Southern Bivouac, v. 2, p. 701, April, 1887. 


delphia auctioneer is quoted as professing to own docu- 
ments which prove that Booth was impelled to his act by 
his friendship for Beall and a desire to avenge him. Beall's 
friends scout the whole story. Judge Lucas does not believe 
that Beall ever saw Booth and remarks that there was no 
similarity of conduct between the two, Beall having no 
fancy for the sports that attracted Booth, while there is 
not the slightest evidence that they were in Canada at the 
same time. 42 Beall was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, 


After the Philo Parsons affair Burley returned to Guelph, 
where he had previously stayed and where, Judge Lucas 
says, he attracted attention to himself by some experiments 
in ordnance or gunnery. This may be a delicate euphuism 
for Greek fire, for the "Official Records" of the Rebellion 
contain a letter written by him at this time, making inquiry 
concerning the use of this incendiary material. 43 At the 
instance of the United States authorities he was arrested 
and taken before the Recorder of Toronto for examination 
on the question of his extradition. There had been con- 
siderable deliberation on the part of the Federal officials as 
to the charge which they should bring against Burley. They 
hesitated to accuse him of piracy, 44 because some high Brit- 

42. Communication from Judge Lucas to the writer. 

43. O. R. (N), ser. i, v. 3, p. 496. 

44. The obstacles to charging Burley with piracy were appreciated at 
once and are noted by Gen. Dix in O. R., ser. i, v. 43, pt. 2, p. 230. Not only 
were the English authorities opposed to the view that the Great Lakes formed 
a part of the high seas, but the earlier decisions of our own courts were on the 
same line. In March, 1867, Judge Ross Wilkins regretfully discharged, for 
lack of jurisdiction by a federal court, Henry Miller, who had been convicted 
of wilfully procuring the setting on fire of the passenger steamer Morning 
Star, plying between Cleveland and Detroit. But in 1893 the question of the 
criminal jurisdiction of the federal courts over the Great Lakes came squarely 
before the United States Supreme Court. Robert S. Rodgers and others had 
been indicted for assaulting with a deadly weapon one James Downs on board 


ish authorities were pledged to the opinion that Lake Erie 
was not a sea and were unwilling to admit that piracy 
could be committed on its waters. While the Attorney- 
General thought, with some hesitation, that Burley's extra- 
dition as a pirate might be asked, he advised that the 
charge should be robbery and assault with intent to commit 
murder. A twenty-dollar greenback, which was among the 
bills taken from Ashley by Beall and Burley, was selected 
upon which to base the accusation, most of the work of 
representing the United States falling to Henry B. Brown, 
then Assistant- Attorney for the Michigan District, now one 
of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court, who 
says of the matter: 45 "I had a very lively time with him 
(Burley) in Toronto, which was rilled with rebels, and for 
a time it looked as though I should fail to get my man." 
Burley's chief defense was his commission 46 as an acting 
master in the Confederate navy signed at Richmond, Sep- 

the American excursion steamer Alaska while in Canadian waters in August, 
1887. In this matter (U. S. vs. Rodgers, U. S., 150, sometimes absurdly called 
the "Alaska piracy case") it was decided that the United States courts had 
jurisdiction, although, to the lay mind at least, the minority opinion of Judges 
Brown and Gray, that the Great Lakes were not a part of the high seas because 
not open to the commerce of the world, seems the more convincing. Between 
the rise of this case and its final decision, however, Congress had passed, at the 
instance of Senator McMillan, it is said, and probably as a result of the Rodgers 
case, the law of Sept. 4, 1890, providing for the punishment by the federal courts 
of crimes committed anywhere upon the Great Lakes. 

45. Communication from Judge Brown to the writer. 

46. It is a question even if this commission had not been antedated. 
William Armstrong, civil engineer and artist, of Toronto, tells the writer: "I 
taught one of the Southern officers photography, and an important message was 
required to be sent to J. Davis. I suggested the reducing of the message by 
photography on mica, which plan was adopted. I printed in large letters on a 
flat paper the message and reduced it to the size of five buttons. The negatives 
were then placed under the usual covering of buttons by Mr. Walker, tailor of 
King Street. The messenger wore the coat and got through to J. Davis. An- 
other message was sent written in the lining of a carpet bag, and when the 
messenger reached the Southern lines he was told he need not proceed, as the 
man with the buttons had gone ahead. I (afterwards) met J. Davis at a dinner 
given by the artillery officers in his honor, and after mess I asked him if he 
remembered the button message, and he seemed much pleased to meet the 
author of it. No one in Toronto except Mr. Walker knew anything about the 
matter. As well as I can remember, the purport of the message on the buttons 
was to get Burley's commission antedated so as to cover the P. Parsons es- 


tember n, 1863, on which there was an endorsement dated 
Richmond, December 22, 1864, in the form of a proclama- 
tion by President Davis, declaring that the Parsons enter- 
prise was a belligerent expedition ordered and undertaken 
under the authority of the Confederate government and for 
which that government assumed responsibility. 

On January 2Oth Recorder Duggan committed Burley 
for surrender, holding that his acts, being against a non- 
combatant and involving a violation of neutral territory, 
were not acts of lawful war. A writ of habeas corpus hav- 
ing been granted by Justice Hagarty, there was an extended 
hearing before Chief Justice Draper of the Queen's Bench, 
with whom sat Chief Justice Richards of the Common Pleas 
and Justices Hagarty and John Wilson. Their unanimous 
decision remanding the prisoner for extradition is treated 
at considerable length in the books on the law of extra- 
dition and is given in full in the Upper Canada Law Jour- 
nal (New Series, Vol. i). In brief, Judge Draper held 
that, even if Burley had the sanction of the Confederate 
authorities, President Davis's manifesto forbade any vio- 
lation of neutral territory, and that Burley's acts estab- 
lished a prima facie case of robbery, the matters alleged 
in his defense being proper to be submitted to a jury in 
the jurisdiction where the offense was committed. Judge 
Wilson said that there was an obvious distinction between 
an order to do a belligerent act and the recognition and 
avowal of such an act after it had been done. One was 
an act of war, and the other was not. "For us judicially 
to give effect to the avowal and adoption of this act would 
be to recognize the existence of the nationality of the Con- 
federate States, which at present our government refuses 
to recognize." Judge Richards, noting that the charge 
upon which Burley had been arrested was one of robbery 
and that the warrant of commitment before the court was 
for this crime, said: "When surrendered I apprehend that 
the United States government would, in good faith, be 
bound to try him for the offense upon which he is sur- 


In view of this last statement and of the anxiety of Bur- 
ley's father lest his son should be tried in the United States 
on a charge of piracy, the following passage from Sir 
Edward Clark's "Treatise upon the Law of Extradition" pos- 
sesses special interest: "The minutes of the evidence taken 
in 1868 by the select committee of the House of Commons 
contain a very singular statement with regard to this case, 
made by the Right Hon. Edmund Hammond, 47 the perma- 
nent Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He said: 'It 
was suggested that the American Government contemplated 
putting him on his trial for piracy, which, however, did not 
prove to have been the case; but he seems to have been 
charged in the United States, though not with us, before 
the Canadian authorities, with assault with intent to com- 
mit murder. The question was referred to the law officers 
of this country, and it was held that, if the United States 
put him bona fide on his trial for the offense in respect of 
which he was given up, it would be difficult to question 
their right to put him upon his trial also for piracy, or any 
other offense which he might be accused of committing 
within their territory, whether or not such offense was a 
ground of extradition or even within the treaty/ ' Eleven 
years later the officials of the British Foreign Office found 
it necessary to wriggle out of this remarkable concession 
the best way they could; but we are chiefly concerned here 
with the evidence that our State Department had so per- 
sisted in the assumption that Burley's offense was assault 
with intent to commit murder that by 1868 the British Gov- 
ernment had begun to believe that he had actually been 

47. Afterwards Baron Hammond of Kirk Ella, Kingston-upon-Hull. He 
was a son of the first British Minister to the United States and was for fifty 
years connected with the Foreign Office. The whole matter of Burley's extra- 
dition was threshed over at length in the House of Lords in 1876 in the dis- 
cussion of the British refusal to give up Winslow. Lord Hammond took part 
in the debate, and summaries of the speeches made by him, Lord Derby, and 
others, as well as what seems to be the entire Burley correspondence between 
the British and American governments, will be found in "Papers Relating to the 
Foreign Relations of the United States," 1876, p. 261 et seq. The earlier 
communications are here reprinted from "Diplomatic Correspondence," for 
1864 and 1865, v. 2 in each case. 


tried on such a charge. This was not the case, although in 
1876, in the controversy over the Winslow extradition mat- 
ter, Secretary Fish assured them : "In tr*e case of Burley, 
extradited from Canada on a charge of robbery, the pris- 
oner was tried on assault with intent to kill." Neither is 
the statement true which Prof. John Bassett Moore quotes 
in his work on "Extradition and Interstate Rendition," from 
a British parliamentary document, that when the Burley 
jury disagreed he "was released on small bail, left, and did 
not reappear." 

While it is a fact that in demanding the extradition of 
Burley in November, 1864, Secretary Seward had referred 
to him as "charged with the crimes of piracy, robbery, and 
assault with intent to commit murder," he was arrested 
and extradited on a simple charge of robbery, as has al- 
ready been shown. Moreover, when he was given up, Feb- 
ruary 5, 1865, Lord Monck notified the home government 
that in the warrant for his delivery the accused was "charged 
with having committed robbery within the jurisdiction of 
the United States." Burley was detained in the Detroit 
House of Correction for some time, while the authorities 
were considering what steps should be taken in his case. 
His father, fearing that a trial for piracy would ensue, 
sought to enlist the good offices of the English Government 
in his son's behalf, with the result that the decision in the 
matter already noted was reached and was communicated 
by Lord John Russell to the British representative in Wash- 
ington, J. Hume Burnley. Instead of informing Secretary 
Seward of the true position of his Government conceding 
the right to try the offender on a charge of piracy, Mr. 
Burnley wrote to the Secretary of State that the British 
Government, in connection with the proper law advisers 
of the crown, having had the matter under consideration, 
were of the opinion that if the United States, having ob- 
tained the extradition on the charge of robbery, did not 
put Burley on trial on this charge, but upon another, viz. : 
piracy, this would be a breach of good faith, against which 


Her Majesty's Government might justly remonstrate. He 
added truthfully that he was instructed to protest against 
any attempt to change the grounds of accusation upon 
which Burley was surrendered. To this Secretary Seward 
responded under date of March 2Oth: 

"The Hon. the Attorney-General informs me that it is his pur- 
pose to bring the offender to trial in the courts of the states of Ohio 
and Michigan for the crimes committed by him against the munici- 
pal laws of those states; namely, robbery and assault with intent 
to commit murder. He was delivered by the Canadian authorities 
upon a requisition which was based upon charges of those crimes, 
and also upon a charge of piracy, which is triable not by states 
courts, but by the courts of the United States. I am not prepared 
to admit the principle claimed in the protest of Her Majesty's Gov- 
ernment; namely, that the offender could not lawfully be tried for 
the crime of piracy under the circumstances of the case. Neverthe- 
less, the question raised upon it has become an abstraction, as it is 
at present the purpose of the Government to bring him to trial for 
the crimes against municipal law only." 

It was finally decided that Burley should be tried in 
Port Clinton, the capital of Ottawa County, Ohio, which 
includes the waters where his offense was committed. Mon- 
day, July 10, 1865, he was brought from Detroit on the 
Philo Parsons to Sandusky Bay, where Sheriff James Lat- 
timore, who still lives to tell the story, met him with a 
smaller steamer and took him to the Port Clinton jail. The 
journal of the Common Pleas Court shows that at the June 
term the grand jury had reported an indictment for rob- 
bery against him. A week later he was brought to trial 
before Judge John Fitch of Toledo, the evidence seemingly 
being chiefly confined to the circumstances under which 
Beall and Burley presented revolvers at Ashley and forced 
him to give up what money he had in his possession. Ac- 
cording to the Toledo Blade of July i8th, Judge Fitch 
charged the jury that the prisoner and other persons con- 
nected with him in the capture of the boat, acting for and 
under orders from the Confederate Government, would not 
be amenable to our civil tribunals for the offense, but that 


the taking of the money from the clerk of the boat might 
or might not belong to and form a part of the expedition. 
If the parties who took the money intended to take and 
appropriate it to their own private use, and did not take 
it for the Confederate Government, and as a part of the 
military expedition, then the prisoner would be guilty of 
the offense; but in carrying out the expedition the parties 
had the same right, in a military point of view, to take 
other articles of property, or even money, that they had 
to take the boat. The jury disagreed, standing, according 
to the sheriff's recollection, six to six, though another tra- 
dition is that the vote was eight to four in favor of con- 
viction. Doubtless, the fact that the war was over had 
much to do with the difference between the fate of Beall 
and that of Burley. In lack of $3,000 bail the latter was 
taken back to the Port Clinton jail with the expectation 
that he would be tried again at the October term. 

The jail was a very inadequate structure for its pur- 
pose, for outsiders could easily communicate with the in- 
mates without the knowledge of their custodians. On one 
occasion the sheriff's wife, as she was leaving the residence 
part of the jail, caught a glimpse of two young women 
who were talking with Burley through his window, and 
although they departed too quickly to be recognized, one 
of them was afterward identified by a letter found in the 
jail. Burley also succeeded in getting possession of an 
extra table knife which he turned into a fine saw. He made 
many friends in Port Clinton who used to pass his mail 
through the window to him without submitting it to the 
sheriff for examination, and indeed Sheriff Lattimore found 
his prisoner such an agreeable companion that he sometimes 
took him down street with him. One Sunday noon in Sep- 
tember the sheriff, taking with him his wife, his man ser- 
vant, and his maid servant, drove into the country to inspect 
his farm and visit his brother, leaving Burley, who was 
the only prisoner, alone in the jail. In the evening he sent 
the two servants to town to do the chores and feed the 


prisoner, but when they reached the jail they found the 
door open and Burley gone. He had procured a key, which 
let him into the sheriff's residence, from which he had 
escaped by a window. That he had help from outside was 
proved by the fact that the window was propped open by 
a limb from a tree that stood near. The sheriff expended 
about $100 in vain efforts to secure his recapture, but the 
people generally were well satisfied with the outcome, especi- 
ally the County Commissioners, since they despaired of a 
conviction and begrudged the expense of Burley's main- 
tenance and the cost of a second trial. 48 Afterwards one 
William Mulcahy of Bay township owned that he hid and 
cared for the fugitive for a week or two, finally taking him 
disguised to Detroit and across the river to Windsor. 49 
He expected to be well rewarded for his services by Bur- 
ley, but never heard from him again. The sheriff, how- 
ver, received a letter from his former prisoner, asking that 
his books, of which he left a large number in the jail, 
might be forwarded to him in Canada. This was shown 
to the County Commissioners, who told the sheriff they 
were glad Burley was gone and advised him to get any of 
his money back that he could. So he wrote the fugitive 
that if he would send him a certain amount, which he has 
now forgotten, the books should be sent. In due time the 
money came, and the books were boxed and expressed to 
their owner, which closed Burley's transactions with the 
county of Ottawa, except that the case against him is still 
supposed to be open. 

In the interval between the capture of the Philo Par- 
sons and the close of the war considerable alarm was ex- 
cited in the Great Lakes cities over the movements of the 
steamer Georgian, the control of which had been secured 
by the Confederate refugees in Canada. But either as a 
result of the vigilance of the Federal authorities or from 
a lack of such an enterprising spirit as that of Beall, what- 
ever plans of mischief had been conceived came to naught. 

48. The story of Burley's escape was communicated to the writer by Mr. 
Lattimore himself. 

49. Mulcahy admitted this to John Detlefs, now deputy auditor of Ottawa 
County, who communicated it to the writer. 




An Address delivered before the Buffalo Historical Society, 
Friday evening, December 15, 1905 


Author of " The Mikado's Empire," and 
Pioneer Educator in Japan 

Copyright 1906, by Wm. Elliot Griffis 





In human history it often happens that good men suffer 
with the fate of institutions. Associated with or entangled 
in tendencies and events, their reputation falls with the pol- 
icy which they in good faith upheld. Not until after the 
ground is cleared of debris and ruin, and new structures 
arise, from which we can view the historic landscape, can 
we pass a just judgment on those whose fortunes fell with 
the falling structure. Yet, as there is a difference between 
reputation and character, so the first may pass under eclipse 
only to emerge in brilliancy, while the latter remains for aye. 

The personality of Millard Fillmore is but slightly known 
to the present generation, because in his public life he rose, 
and fell out of national notice, with the Whig party. His 
statesmanship, though marked by high qualities, confronted 
a problem that seems now to have been absolutely insoluble, 
except through an appeal to the sword, so that the issues, 
in meeting which he gave his noblest efforts, seem dead and 
gone forever, and, with them, in the eye of the unthinking, 
Millard Fillmore's reputation. 

To the impartial student of history such is far from being 
the case. His character reveals itself as that of a noble 
patriot and generous citizen, and as one who did his duty 
as he saw it, never shirking it. Only for those who are wise 
after the event are shallow criticisms and snap judgments. 



The generation that is now coming into active life and the 
generations which are to follow will award Millard Fillmore 
just consideration and higher praise. For their verdict upon 
his political life, we can afford to wait. In this paper we 
propose to outline the career of a typical American, who 
after birth in the forest and training on the farm emerged 
to national fame and world-wide power. We shall show 
especially his part in the opening of an empire long sealed 
from the world, but mainly through American action intro- 
duced into the family of nations and, with the aid of Ameri- 
can political friendship and educational influences, assisted 
to an honorable place in the world's council of nations. 

Least of all men was Millard Fillmore supercilious in 
pride of birth ; and yet, neither history nor science permits 
us to ignore his ancestry. Genealogists find that the original 
family name has been variously spelled, the original form 
being Filmer, as, for example, in the case of Sir Robert 
Filmer. This political writer of the sixteenth century was 
one of the early expounders of the theory of the Divine 
Right of Kings, the critic of Milton, Hobbes, and Grotius ; 
in a word, he was the assertor of a doctrine of which the 
Fillmores in America were to be the most uncompromising 
opposers with both sword and pen, in opinion and in life. 

Coming from England and settling at Ipswich, Mass., in 
the seventeenth century, John Fillmore followed the sea. 
Captured by pirates, he was impressed on their vessel ; but, 
refusing to serve them, he made his escape after a daring 
uprising, with comrades in the plot, and brought both the 
vessels to Boston and the pirates to justice and the gallows, 
all of which is told in the pamphlet printed by his descend- 
ants. In later years, he settled near Norwich, Conn., whence 
his son, Nathaniel, emigrated to Bennington, Vermont. 
During Stark's campaign, Nathaniel Fillmore fought on the 
American side, having a part in that victory which some 
Vermonters believe was the turning-point of the Revolu- 
tionary War. Nathaniel's son, also named Nathaniel, a 
native of Bennington, emigrated to the lake region of New 
York, when the greater part of the Empire State was a 


forest. He made a clearing in the town of Summer Hill, 
then a part of Locke in Cayuga County, and reared a log 
cabin. After reaping his first crop, he went back to Ben- 
nington and married Phebe Millard, a native of Pittsfield, 
Mass. Millard Fillmore, their second child and eldest son, 
was born in the log cabin at Summer Hill, Jan. 7, 1800. 
The baby boy's cradle was a sap-trough, for one of the active 
industries of the forest was the making of maple sugar, and 
such a receptacle was always at hand. From the trees the 
pioneers derived not only material for shelter and furniture, 
but food and fuel. After the chemistry of fire and leeching 
with water, the woodsman won wealth also from the sale of 

The boy Fillmore grew up among the trees and in the 
clearings of the beautiful lake region of New York. With 
abounding health and a vigorous constitution, that made its 
possessor a stranger to disease and weakness all his days, 
he inherited a fine manly figure that rendered him notable 
in later life. He shared his father's vicissitudes. Although 
the land had been scientifically laid out by Simeon DeWitt 
and his young surveyors, yet land titles were uncertain, 
largely through the inexperience and carelessness of settlers 
and the rascality of men claiming to be lawyers. Losing 
his legal title to the soil, Nathaniel Fillmore moved eastward 
to the town of Sempronius, now named Niles, in the same 
county of Cayuga, and within one mile of Skaneateles Lake. 

Young Fillmore was a real boy. He had an inclination 
to vary the routine o'f farm work and forest-subduing with 
recreation in hunting and fishing. His father, however, 
taught him that such an avocation became Indians better 
than civilized white men, and to this orthodoxy young Mil- 
lard became a true convert. Nevertheless, his enjoyment 
in nature was intense. In his brief autobiography, 1 one of 

i. "Sketch of the early life of Millard Fillmore, by himself, commenced 
Feb'y 8, 1871." The original manuscript, securely wrapped and sealed, was 
deposited by Mr. Fillmore in the archives of the Buffalo Historical Society, 
with instructions that it should not be opened until after his death, which 
were complied with. In 1880 the Autobiography was published by the His- 
torical Society, in Vol. II of its Publications. 


the most interesting writings that has dropped from his pen, 
he tells of his delight in the beauties of lake and stream, 
forest and hill. To him the advantages of education were 
few, for in the log school houses on the frontier, in that era, 
few men could be spared from manual labor. The young 
people were usually taught by women having but little intel- 
lectual training or resources of learning. Millard Fillmore 
never saw a geography or atlas until he was nineteen, and 
rarely a book of any sort beyond the Bible, almanac, and 
John Bunyan's immortal story. With this scanty library in 
the log cabin home he was well acquainted. 

His father inclining to the idea, after bitter experiences, 
that replenishing and subduing the earth brought more sweat 
on the brow than money in the pocket, advised Millard to 
learn a trade. Becoming an apprentice to a wool-carder and 
cloth dresser, Millard mastered his craft according to the 
rude methods of his time. Meanwhile a library was started 
in his village and the boy's opportunities for learning about 
the world through books were handsomely enlarged. In his 
moments of leisure, while looking after the wooden machin- 
ery, he could utilize his time in perusing such volumes as he 
could command. As a reader, he diligently employed the 
hours of the night, also, and sometimes of early morning 
before the fireplace. When nineteen years of age he began 
the study of law with Judge Wood of Montville, N. Y., 
having bought off a part of his apprenticeship by giving his 
employer a promissory note, which he later honorably dis- 

Later on, in 1822, after paying his debts to Judge Wood, 
he left Central New York and removed to Buffalo, then a 
village rising from the ashes of war-fires. From the first, 
he had the strongest faith in the future of the city, of which 
he was to become the first citizen. He was admitted to the 
bar in 1823, but from modesty and other considerations 
opened an office at East Aurora, N. Y., teaching school as 
well as practicing law. From that time forward, Millard 
Fillmore was an exceedingly busy man, alternating his work 
of private legal practice with activity in political and public 


executive life. In 1830, making his home in Buffalo, he 
former a partnership with Joseph Clary; and later, with 
Solomon G. Haven and Nathan K. Hall, established that 
law firm which was associated for many years prominently 
with the legal history of Western New York. He was sent 
by his fellow citizens of Erie County to be their spokesman 
in the New York Assembly, from 1829 to 1832. From 1833 
to 1835, and from 1837 to 1841, he was Representative from 
the State of New York in the Congress of the United States. 
At the National Capital, as chairman of the Committee of 
Ways and Means, he became virtual leader of the House. 
He shared the views of John Quincy Adams on the subject 
of slavery and voted chiefly with the Whigs. He also took 
the leading part in formulating the tariff of 1842. Thus 
brought prominently before the country, he was made the 
Whig candidate for Governor of the State of New York. 
Confronted as his rival by the very popular Silas Wright, 
Fillmore was defeated. Having resumed his law practice, 
he was called again to be Comptroller of the State of New 
York, when that office was of great importance and power, 
the work then done in it being now distributed among sev- 
eral bureaus. 

The Whig party, not satisfied with having Millard Fill- 
more remain in a State office, nominated him on a ticket 
with Gen. Zachary Taylor. His duties as Vice-President 
were in the old capitol building at Washington. Before the 
distinguished representatives of thirty sovereign states, he 
appeared as moderator of a Senate, for which John C. 
Calhoun had formulated the rule that no Senator should be 
called to order for any of his utterances. Millard Fillmore, 
having already conquered himself and being a past master in 
urbanity, demanded that mutual courtesy should be the rule 
of the Senate. In clear and strong terms he enunciated his 
convictions and policy as presiding officer, and the Senate 
agreed with him, ordering his speech on this subject to be 

At this era in our national evolution, the slave and free 
states had each thirty senators, though in the House of 


Representatives the free states had 139 Congressmen from 
the North to ninety-one from the South. The purpose of 
the upholders of slavery was to make the involuntary ser- 
vitude of the negro a permanent institution in the United 
States and to anchor its claims in the constitution. With 
this end in view, they were desirous of having California 
enter as a slave state, and if possible to annex Cuba and get 
Texas divided into four states. 

Taylor's inauguration marked the beginning of a process 
of change which in a few years was to destroy the Whig 
party and to transform the Democratic party. The Whigs 
rejected the principle of the Wilmot Proviso, which was to 
prevent the growth of slavery. The Free Soil Democrats 
had left the old Democratic party, but, since there were 
many pro-slavery Whigs, the old Democratic party became 
increasingly more progressively pro-slavery, by accession 
from their former opponents. Thus it will be seen that the 
Whigs had no compensating gain and their party was 
doomed from this time. Its disintegration continued from 
its success in 1848, until its anti-slavery successor, the Free 
Soil or Republican Party, took its place in 1855. 

This era of decay of old party organizations, and the 
uprising of new ones was marked by an extraordinary 
issue from the mint of language. The coinage of odd and 
picturesque names varied according to local feeling and 
national exigencies. The wonderful verbal changes and 
unexpected political results suggest an exhibition of popular 
chemistry, when reactions and precipitants, colors and de- 
posits, sublimates and vapors, surprise and bewilder the 
spectators. After a Democratic National Convention had 
voted down the doctrine that the people of each territory 
should prohibit or permit slavery as they pleased, the pro- 
slavery Whigs began to preach the doctrine of "Squatter 
Sovereignty." They did not foresee that such a doctrine 
would precipitate a battle of compromises. As matter of 
fact, the discovery of gold on the Pacific Coast brought to 
the front with startling rapidity the burning question. When, 
on the I3th of November, 1849, only twenty days before 


the assembling of Congress, the people of California, immi- 
grants of but a few months, made a constitution which ex- 
pressly prohibited slavery, the pro-slavery Whigs and the 
Democrats alike saw a practical application of this doctrine 
of Squatter Sovereignty, which was both surprising and 

In the Congress of 1849, the XXXIst, there were in the 
Senate thirty-five Democrats, twenty-five Whigs, and two 
Free Soilers. In the House there were no Democrats, 105 
Whigs and nine Free Soilers ; or, in other words, a Demo- 
cratic majority in the Senate; while in the House there was 
no party majority, the Free Soilers holding the balance of 
power between the two opponents. Howell Cobb of Georgia, 
a Democrat, was elected Speaker, not by a majority, but by 
the highest number of votes. Henry Clay, just before the 
application of California for admission, proposed the Com- 
promise of 1850, which covered seven points. The Whigs 
and Free Soilers with the extreme southern Democrats 
opposed this basis of settlement, but the majority of the 
American people accepted the compromise as the best means 
for averting civil war and the rupture of the states in union. 
The tremendous debate went on through the abnormally 
long session, the one so-called Omnibus Bill being divided 
into several bills. 

While these were under debate, General Zachary Taylor 
died and Millard Fillmore was made President on July 9, 
1850. The change had no effect upon party contests, for 
Millard Fillmore carried out the policy of his predecessor. 
Nevertheless he claimed and exercised the right of choosing 
his Cabinet officers, and this he did with the idea of having 
all parts of the country represented by his councillors. The 
tremendous debate continued amid intense anxiety for the 
safety of the Union. All the bills in the original Omnibus 
Bill were passed after debate of August and September, 
California becoming a State of the Union on the 9th of 
September, 1850. The adjournment of Congress took place 
on the last day of this memorable month, 1850. 


The most vital part of the compromise measures was the 
Fugitive Slave Law, which was a virtual reenactment of 
the law which Washington had signed in 1793, but much 
more stringent in its provisions, and when put into practice 
at such a time and in such an era was often not only cruel 
but inhuman in its methods. The fugitive from unpaid 
labor was to be sought out and extradited without trial by 
jury ; and all good citizens were commanded to aid in mak- 
ing arrests and returning the negro to the toil from which 
he had escaped. The work of hunting out and returning the 
fugitives was begun, but met with instant opposition all over 
the North, by and from Democrats, and anti-slavery Whigs 
as well as from Free Soilers. It caused the creation at once 
of "The Underground Railway," or concerted system of 
assisting thousands of negroes to make their way from 
below Mason and Dixon's line toward the North star into 

This law, against which passion, conscience, poetry, elo- 
quence and active intervention protested, was also opposed 
in the legislatures of the North, which passed personal lib- 
erty laws, which were intended to protect free negroes 
falsely alleged to be fugitive slaves. 

When this "infamous bill" came up for the approval or 
veto of the President, Mr. Fillmore, not liking in it the fea- 
ture of the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, asked 
the opinion of his Attorney-General, John J. Crittenden of 
Kentucky, who assured him that it was in accordance with the 
Constitution of the United States. Then, in all good con- 
science, and hoping it would unite the country and save war, 
he signed it in accordance with his oath to "maintain, pro- 
tect and defend the Constitution of the United States of 

In relation to the legislative department of the Govern- 
ment, we may remark concerning the second session of the 
XXXIst Congress that although long and tedious, the old 
economic questions having disappeared, slavery was still the 
burning question, while neither party was ready to commit 
itself to a final position. Hence, in reaction from the fur- 


nace-like activity of the previous year, little beside routine 
business was transacted. When the XXXI Id Congress met 
there was a Democratic majority in both branches. This 
seemed to prove beyond question that the American people at 
large were satisfied with the compromise measures, believing 
as they did that these had averted war. Had the United 
States comprised only the territory between the Atlantic and 
the Mississippi, the situation might have remained un- 
changed for another generation at least. -The question of 
slavery was considered as settled and the measures recom- 
mended by the administration were mostly supported. How- 
ever, in a new country like the United States, the western 
half was being developed with startling rapidity, and the 
struggle between slavery and its opposers was being trans- 
ferred to the region west of the Mississippi river, though 
few persons foresaw this clearly. 

So popular was Mr. Fillmore, both personally and politi- 
cally, that when the Whig National Convention met at Bal- 
timore on June i6th it endorsed the Compromise of 1850 
and the Fugitive Slave Law almost as fully as the Demo- 
cratic National Convention had done in the same city a fort- 
night before. Mr. Fillmore received a large vote at the open- 
ing of the convention, but General Winfield Scott and 
William A. Graham of North Carolina, Mr. Fillmore's Sec- 
retary of the Navy, were nominated for the Presidency and 
Vice-Presidency. The Free Soil Democratic Convention at 
Pittsburg, in August, denounced slavery, the Compromise 
of 1850, and both the Whig and Democratic parties. In 
the ensuing election the Whigs carried only four states, 
while the Democrats were victorious in twenty-seven. 
Pierce and King were elected. It was evident that the Whig 
party was destined to die of acute indigestion from having 
swallowed the Fugitive Slave Law. 

Before we turn from Mr. Fillmore's political career, we 
may note that the Kansas-Nebraska bill was passed, and the 
division between Northern and Southern Whigs became 
final. The latter portion of the once "grand old party" 
became pro-slavery Democrat, while the northern wing 


soon marched in line with the Republicans. In the reaction 
of political views and opinions, a new party had sprung up 
which was called the American party, though popularly 
named the Know-Nothings. Its great purpose was to have 
native-born American citizens chosen to office and to make 
difficult the naturalization of foreigners. Such an organi- 
zation was almost inevitable in the general flux of old par- 
ties, when many veteran voters were too dissatisfied with 
their old enemies to ally themselves at once with the ancient 
organizations. It came to pass that this obscure party, 
which had been more or less local in its operations, became 
national for a time, and in 1853 nominated Millard Fillmore 
for its Presidential candidate. He accepted the nomination 
while in Europe, where, at Paris, with Martin Van Buren, 
he paid a visit to Horace Greeley. The latter was going 
through the odd and annoying experience of detention in a 
French prison, because of some ridiculous debt which a 
Frenchman, whose work of art and genius in plaster-of- 
paris had been injured during the World's Fair at the 
Crystal Palace at New York, claimed to exist against 
Greeley. This visit of Mr. Fillmore to an inveterate politi- 
cal enemy showed his generosity of character and kindness 
of heart. Furthermore, it was highly appropriate for a 
statesman, who in the New York Legislature had been the 
strenuous and wise leader in getting the statute in force 
which secured the abolition of imprisonment for debt, to do 
this eminently Christian act. 

All compromise having proved but a temporary dyke 
against the surges raised by the increasing political storm, 
Millard Fillmore retired to private life, to become the first 
citizen of Buffalo, to be the founder of institutions and the 
promoter of noble schemes of civic advancement, notably of 
this Historical Society, the Buffalo General Hospital and 
the Buffalo University. As the dispenser of a gracious hos- 
pitality in his charming home, he was known over the land. 
He was the host in entertaining his successor (with two 
administrations between), Abraham Lincoln. During the 
war, without approving of all the details of governmental 


policy, he was a loyal upholder of the Union cause. He 
wore the uniform of the Home Guard and was captain of a 
company. After a second marriage, which enabled him to 
maintain open house for years to a happy throng of guests 
and visitors, he ended his mortal career on March 8, 1874. 
Unfortunately for history, for his own full vindication from 
hostile criticism, or the misunderstanding of ignorance, all 
his carefully arranged public and private papers were de- 
stroyed by the executor of his only son's estate. 2 

Happily, however, Mr. Fillmore's most enduring works, 
which remain after his labors are forgotten, do not need the 
witness of his private archives. Testimony from other 
sources is abundant and the proofs are overwhelming that 
the supreme ambition of our thirteenth president was to 

2. "A phenomenal instance of literary vandalism occurred in the city of 
Buffalo, early in 1891, when all the valuable letters and documents relating 
to the administration of Millard Fillmore were destroyed by the executor of 
the ex-President's only son, Millard Powers Fillmore, whose will contained a 
mandate to that effect. Why he should have wished in this way to destroy an 
important part of the history of his country, as well as of his father's honor- 
able career, or why any intelligent lawyer should have consigned to the flames 
thousands of papers by Webster and other illustrious men, without at least 
causing copies of the most valuable of them to be made, is entirely beyond 
the comprehension of ordinary mortals." So writes Gen. James Grant Wilson, 
in his book, "The Presidents of the United States," pp. 259-260. Gen. Wilson 
tells of a visit which he made to Millard Fillmore, in the latter's Buffalo 
home, when the ex-President, pointing to a cabinet of papers in his library, 
said: "In those cases can be found every important letter and document 
which I received during my administration, and which will enable the future 
historian or biographer to prepare an authentic account of that period of our 
country's history." So far as known, none of these papers now exist. 

There is no clause in Millard Fillmore's will directing the destruction of 
his papers; but in the will of his son occurs the following: "I, Millard 
Powers Fillmore, of Buffalo, N. Y., particularly request and 

direct my executor at the earliest practicable moment to burn or otherwise 
effectively destroy all correspondence or letters to or from my father, mother, 
sister or me and under his immediate supervision. I hope to be able to do 
this before my death." The will named Delavan F. Clark, of Buffalo, as 
executor, and is dated May 2, 1884. It was admitted to probate Feb. 18, 1890, 
and letters testamentary were granted by the Court February 24th, Messrs. 
Charles D. Marshall, Delavan F. Clark and James H. Madison being appointed 
executors. Mr. Marshall states that the executors, in accordance with the 
direction of the will, did destroy all of the designated correspondence. He 
recalls that it included letters from Edward Everett, Henry Clay, Daniel 
Webster and other distinguished contemporaries of Millard Fillmore. No 
copies were made. 


make his country great. He impressed upon the world the 
purpose of the American nation, in all its foreign relations, 
to do righteousness and to be generous toward the weak. 
Of exploration, the enlargement of commerce, cultivation of 
friendship with old ai\d new nations, he was an ardent ad- 
vocate. While personally active in schemes of humanity, 
he was vigorous in suppressing unlawful enterprises. In 
China and the North Pacific, in South America, in the Holy 
Land, Americans were notably forward in opening new 
paths of knowledge or avenues of commerce, but it was 
especially in "the discovery of a new nation," the Japanese, 
that Millard Fillmore was most wisely active. Many writers 
have claimed for themselves or their heroes, the honor of 
"originating" the successful Perry expedition of 1854, but 
to none, so much as to President Fillmore, are the honors of 
consummation due. Others for half a century or more, 
sailors, merchants, whalers, Congressmen, Cabinet officers, 
statisticians, commodores and naval lieutenants, men and 
women of faith and prayer, philanthropists and waifs, both 
American and Japanese, had part in augmenting that satu- 
rated solution in history's beaker, but it was Fillmore that 
dropped the fragment that turned liquid to crystals. 

Let us look at the American advance in the Pacific and 
note the various attempts to lure out of her care the hermit 
lady of Japan. In the primeval myth, read in the Kojiki, 
Japan's Book of Origins, the Sun-goddess, enraged at the 
pranks of her younger brother, retired in the cave. By with- 
drawing her shining presence, she plunged the world in 
darkness. Hence it became necessary for the other "gods," 
by means of crowing cocks, blazing fires, the invention of 
jewelry, mirror, and works of art, with song and dance 
and music, mirth-making Uzume and the noisy laughter of 
the kami to make her peep forth. This she did in order to 
satisfy her own curiosity. Then the Deity of Strong Hands 
pulled away the rocky door and in the flood of her effulgence 
all the world was again in light and joy. 

This was the ancient way of telling in fascinating narra- 
tive and poetical myth of an eclipse of the sun and the origin 


of the arts. In the modern reenactment of Japan's drama of 
Meiji, or enlightened civilization, on a grander scale and 
with historic and literal, rather than rationalistic interpreta- 
tion, we shall outline the process of events in their chrono- 
logical order. There was first, hospitable Japan open and 
sunny. Then came the disturbing foreigners. The political 
tricks of the agents of Spain and Portugal and their spiritual 
backers in Italy alarmed the Government. The proselyting 
of these strangers was according to the methods of the 
Inquisition. Their ruthless disturbance of Japanese ways 
of life was as the throwing, by the scapegrace Susanoo, of 
the reeking pie-bald horsehide on the looms and silken woof 
of the Sun-goddess and her virgins. Instantly frightened, 
Japan shut herself up as in a cave, barring out all the world. 
Long and often, but all in vain, did the men beyond sea, 
from Europe and America, display their inventions, sound 
their music, and attempt in every way, by threats, bribes 
and flatteries to allure out the hermit. Fair Japan kept in 
hiding until Matthew Perry's consummate acting, with the 
music of the Marine Band and the dulcet lines of Millard 
Fillmore's love-letter, moved the cave door ajar, so that in 
due season Townsend Harris's strong hands could pull it 
wide open and all the earth be flooded with the light of 
Nippon. In a large sense of the word, American statesmen, 
Webster, Everett, Fillmore, Graham, Kennedy, Perry, 
Harris, made modern Japan and gave the Mikado a new 
throne and nation. 

As early as 1797 the American flag of stripes and stars 
was mirrored in Japanese waters, when Captain Stewart 
carried for the Dutch merchant at Deshima a cargo to 
Nagasaki from Batavia. Again in 1798, Captain Stewart 
entered, at Nagasaki harbor, Japan's loop-hole. When the 
flag of the Dutch republic was driven off the seas by 
France, the seventeen-starred flag of our country was borne 
on the two ships sent annually from Batavia to Nagasaki, 
and at least one of the pair sent annually from 1806 to 1809. 
Quick to take advantage of openings and opportunities, the 
American ship Eclipse of Boston was loaded with Russian 


goods in 1807 and an attempt at trade made with the hermits 
of Nippon. Captain Coffin of Nantucket, in the American 
ship Trident, landed, in 1809, on the Bonin Islands, now an 
integral part of Japan. After the war of 1812, Commodore 
Porter in a letter to Secretary, afterwards President Monroe, 
asked for a frigate and two sloops to go on a venture to 
Japan to open trade. During the tremendous growth and 
expansion of our nation within the next two decades, Japan 
was less in the thoughts of our enterprising men, but under 
President Andrew Jackson there was a revival of interest 
in other nations. As yet we had no representative at the 
courts of Africa or Asia; but Edmund Roberts of Ports- 
mouth, N. H., who had traded on the coasts of that conti- 
nent from which most of mankind's inventions and culture, 
and even our Christian religion have come, became our 
first envoy in Asia. Setting forth in the sloop-of-war 
Peacock, and duly authorized by President Jackson, he 
made treaties with the rulers of Muscat in Africa and Siam 
in peninsular Asia, and then looked to China and Japan. 
He fell a victim to ship disease and found an honored grave 
at Macao. His monument was reared by his proud fellow 
countrymen, and in the stained glass of St. John's Episcopal 
Church at Portsmouth the city of the Russia-Japan 
treaty conference he is remembered and his achievements 

During all these years, the shores of both countries were 
lined with wrecks and waifs from either distant continent. 
The American whaler had chased his prey from Cape Horn 
northward to the fogs of the Kurile Islands, and many a 
New Bedford sailor became an involuntary tourist in Japan 
often enjoying free rides in prison cages. On the other 
hand, Japanese fishermen in junks blown out to sea drifted 
to hungry and to thirsty death and both as living men and 
as corpses arrived at the Aleutians, the coasts of British 
America, California and even at Hawaii. Not a few of them, 
landing in Alaska or southward, sunk their identity in the 
Indian tribes. Picked up by American or other ship cap- 
tains, some of them reaching China, America, or Europe, 


were lost to sight, or, learning English, or teaching their 
own tongue, have their names recorded and are known to 
fame. In 1837 we find the American Captain Kennedy at 
the Bonin Islands then true to its name, meaning No Man's 
Land where already a mixed non-Japanese colony of 
people from America or the Pacific islands had their home. 

In this same year, 1837, the American merchant, Mr. 
Charles W. King of King & Co. of Macao, fitted out the ship 
Morrison, in hope of making a trading voyage to Japan and 
to return seven Japanese waifs picked up in Oregon and 
Luzon. From these men, Dr. S. Wells Williams had learned 
the tongue of Nippon. With them went also Dr. Peter 
Parker and Rev. Charles Gutzlaff. In vain was their 
mission. They met in Yedo Bay only the spitfire of the 
dragon's mouth. Obedient to their orders, the garrisons of 
the Japanese forts, then mounting one-pounder guns, fired 
on the Morrison and drove away the philanthropists. At 
Kagoshima, in Satsuma, they received the same answer of 
fire and iron. The voyage cost the ship owners $2,000 and 
the results at first appear naught, but the literature of Japan 
shows that the moral effect was great in cheering those native 
prisoners of the spirit, who hoped to see their country enter 
the brotherhood of nations. Furthermore, the treatment of 
the Morrison helped to reveal to themselves what fools the 
Japanese, as represented and misrepresented by the Yedo 
bureaucracy, were in shutting out the whole world. In a 
word, Mr. King and the Morrison hastened the fall of the 
Yedo usurpation and the downfall of the Tycoonal system 
the necessary preliminaries of a united nation and the new 

The year 1845 * s a year notable to Americans in the story 
of Japan's opening. On February I5th, General Zadoc 
Pratt of Prattsville, Green County, N. Y., in the House of 
Representatives, offered a resolution advising the despatch 
of an American embassy to Japan and Korea. General 
Pratt was chairman of the Committee on Statistics. For 
several years, from 1830 to 1847, Mr. Aaron H. Palmer of 
New York gave great attention to the collection of informa- 


tion bearing on American trade with the Asiatic continent, 
and the commercial possibilities of developing commerce so 
as to include Japan. He published a pamphlet on this sub- 
ject which attracted attention in and out of Congress, and 
had a powerful influence in awakening attention to Japan 
as the unknown factor of the future in the Pacific Ocean. 

In this same year, three Japanese fishermen blown far 
out to sea were carried by the United States frigate St. 
Louis, from one of the Micronesian islands to Ningpo, 
China. Afraid of being put to death, these poor fellows 
refused to be sent "home." Thus, Japan's cruelty, rather, 
shall we say, the savagery of the Yedo bureaucracy, was 
being more and more exposed to the world. Being itself a 
political sham, with a figurehead that was anything but an 
"emperor," the Bakufu had to tell bigger lies on each emer- 
gency to cover its previous deceptions. So the "tangled 
web" became still more entangled, until the sword of '68 cut 
its Gordian mass. We are not to accuse the Japanese people 
of the inhumanity of not receiving their own shipwrecked 
sailors and of firing on rescue ships and of defying the whole 
world. Hereafter, in this paper we shall use the term Bakufu 
that is, not the true Emperor of Japan, but "the war- 
curtain government" at Yedo. Let us note the lying state- 
ments officially made in Yedo, for this may enable us to 
understand why Millard Fillmore gave Commodore Perry 
power, if necessary, to blow the lie to pieces. 

We note one streak of sunshine before the storm. 

In April, 1846, Captain Mercator Cooper, in the whaling 
ship Manhattan, of Sag Harbor, found fifteen Japanese 
sailors wrecked at St. Peter's Island. With seven others 
from a junk blown out from Yedo Bay, Cooper reached the 
coast of Japan. He sent two of his Japanese guests over- 
land to Yedo announcing his coming. The American ship 
was met by boats sent by the authorities and the Manhattan 
was towed to an anchorage near the city, and Captain 
Cooper was courteously treated, receiving books, charts, 
water and food, but no encouragement to open trade. 


The phenomena of waifs and whalers, statistics and 
Congressional resolutions, and the looming necessity of coal 
for our cruisers (for we were then beginning a steam navy) 
kept on increasing. Even Poughkeepsie, N. Y., which was 
then active in the whaling business, furnished her quota of 
influences in making the long-barred gates of Thornrose 
Castle swing open. In 1845, Captain Baker, of the ship 
Lawrence, sailed down the Hudson, into the Atlantic, and 
around Cape Horn to her hunting waters of northern Japan, 
only to be wrecked amid the fogs of the Kurile Islands. 
Seven survivors landed, to be kindly treated by the people 
and thrown in prison by officers. Indeed, that was the 
normal Japanese attitude under Tycoonism kind hearts 
among the people, impotent dread and heartless cruelty 
from officialdom. Japan's government then was a lie in 
intrenchments. After incarceration and ill treatment for 
seventeen months, the Americans were sent to Batavia, 
Java, in a Dutch vessel. 

Sensitive to the rising tide of influence, President James 
K. Polk late in 1847 ordered Commodore Biddle, in the ship 
of the line Columbus, of ninety guns, and the sloop of war 
Vincennes to enter Yedo Bay and deliver a letter to the sham 
"emperor," the Yedo shogun. The Commodore was in- 
structed to inquire as to the opening of the ports of Japan 
to trade, but under no circumstances to do anything to cause 
animosity. The mighty ships were at once and during ten 
days walled in with a cordon of junks, lashed stem to stern, 
in a circle. Why? To keep the Americans from landing? 
Hardly. Japan was clamped and cramped by the laws of 
inclusion fully as much as by the iron rules of exclusion. 
Rather was it the purpose of stereotyped barbarism to warn 
off, under ban of death or gaol, if caught, the inquiring 
spirits in Japan itself, who sought knowledge and who hated 
with unsleeping hatred their Yedo oppressors. They, un- 
speakably more than the aliens, longed to crush Yedo 
tyranny and make Japan less a fragile shell and more a 
potent nation. Duarchy was doomed. 


"The defiant expression of the exclusive policy in its 
dying hours," as Dr. Nitobe stigmatizes it, was a volley of 
falsehoods. Below are extracts from the "edict" of the sham 
"emperor" in Yedo and the last refusal emanating from the 
system, which, twenty- four years later, was to disappear for- 
ever in the battle smoke of Fushimi. Before the cannon and 
American rifles of patriots who hated, with the hatred of 
over two centuries, the whole structure of the Yedo Govern- 
ment, duarchy and sham were improved off the face of the 
earth, to be quickly followed by belated feudalism. 

Here are some of the authorized falsehoods specimens 
of the crop all too luxuriant in the "official" history of Japan. 
We quote the shogun's reply of 1846 with our comment in 
brackets : 

"We refuse to trade with foreigners because this has been 
our habit from time immemorial." [On the contrary, Japan 
was open to trade from ancient times until lyeyasu, founder 
of the Yedo system, shut it off about A. D. 1615.] "It will 
be of no use to renew the attempt." [No, not until Glynn, 
Perry and Harris, who will take no refusal, come, or until 
wise men rule in Yedo.] "Every nation has a right to man- 
age its affairs in its own way." [Once true, possibly. In the 
Yedo sense of exclusion, opposed to Confucius and Mencius, 
who said "He who does not rescue the shipwrecked is worse 
than a wolf," to say nothing about Christ, or human soli- 
darity and ocean's dangers, no nation has such a right.] "The 
trade carried on with the Dutch at Nagasaki is not to be re- 
garded as furnishing a precedent for trade with other 
foreign nations. The place is of few inhabitants and very 
little business." [Relatively with Yedo, true; but, as a 
general statement, wholly false. So far from being of "no 
importance," this Nagasaki "affair," of a Dutch merchant 
settlement, fertilized for two centuries and a half, the 
Japanese intellect, through science, language, the education 
of native physicians, the gaining of knowledge, apparatus, 
mechanism, etc. Dutch trade was one of the potent elements 
in the making of the Japan of today.] "The Emperor." 
[This is a translation of Tai-kun, a usurped title, a sham 


and a usurpation, for which, in the gathering storm that 
broke in 1868, the inventors or their successors paid dearly.] 
"Consult your own safety by not appearing again on our 
coast." [That bombastic warning a veritable jackass kick 
to the supposedly moribund lion of foreign solicitation, 
really woke up the king of beasts. Modern commerce, the 
nineteenth-century world of coal, of steam, and of human 
solidarity, could not be treated thus.] 

Unconsciously the Bakufu [Curtain Government, as its 
enemies called the Yedo regime] instead of solving, as its 
incompetent statesmen supposed, the problem of foreign 
intercourse by a silly threat, did but reopen the question in 
an acute form, as we shall see. 

In the perspective of history, while the pendulum of in- 
terest vibrated from eastern to western end of the arc, 
from Japanese waifs to the American demand for coal and 
commerce, the crisis was hastened by the outbreak of the 
Mexican War, which resulted in the inclusion of California 
in the possessions of the United States. This extended our 
frontier along the Pacific front and was quickly followed by 
the discovery of gold and the influx of immigrants by land 
and sea, ship and wagon. Japan, the hermit nation, was 
confronted with the imminent problem long feared, while 
ignored, by the Yedo Bureaucracy, but now uprearing itself 
in colossal form. With wise foresight, the friendly King 
of the Netherlands sent out two war ships to Japan, strongly 
advising the Japanese to receive peaceably and with welcome 
the American envoy. Thus his proposals for a treaty, pro- 
ceeded a step further in cooperation with American enter- 
prise. The special point which we notice about this Dutch 
recommendation is that Perry ignored, while Fillmore grate- 
fully noted and commended this help from the Dutch the 
one European people in whom the Japanese had retained 

The insolent word of the Bakufu to Biddle created the 
policy of Glynn, Fillmore, Perry and Harris, which in turn 
cooperated with interior forces to undermine the Yedo sys- 
tem, that for two centuries had overawed the Mikado, for 
the making of the new Japan. 


That moment when Biddle, a commodore in the United 
States navy, was insulted by a common junk-man, yet made 
no hostile reprisal, but like a good soldier, obeyed his orders, 
was the pivot on which events turned. Peaceful measures 
were past. Forbearance was no longer a virtue. Biddle 
died soon after and the Mexican War broke out. Japan was 
forgotten for a while, but Peace came, and then our ship- 
wrecked sailors languishing in Japanese prisons, were re- 
membered. Nor was the insult to Biddle forgotten by the 
officers and sailors of the United States navy. On the next 
visit, not Japan but the minions of Yedo officialdom were 
to learn what were in both talons of the American eagle. 
In one was the olive branch, in the other were the bolts and 
arrows of war. The first navy to give Christendom the initi- 
ative in defying the Algerian pirates and to rescue without 
ransom her sons in Mahometan prisons, the first to challenge 
successfully the British claim to rule the seas, was to lead in 
breaking Japan's bars of barbarism forged in Yedo. The 
United States was now ready to open another chapter of 
advance in the history of civilization. In the dishonor done 
to Biddle and the insults to the peaceful wooing by modest 
petition of the United States, the Bakufu sounded its own 
doom. It gave to the unsleeping "Mikado-reverencers" 
their long-awaited opportunity to spring at its throat. We 
can now afford to be brief in showing why Fillmore not 
only selected Perry as the man for the work in hand, but 
backed him with sufficient force to compel respect even from 
the pinchbeck "emperor" at Yedo; who, in the eyes of 
Japanese patriots, educated by critical and historical scholars, 
was but a usurper. 

It was in January, 1849, tna t the Japanese bureaucracy 
received more than a hint that the day of their own inclusion 
and the exclusion, not of aliens but of their own shipwrecked 
people, was nearly over, and; that the outside nations looked 
upon their insolent refusals, both to take back Japanese 
waifs and to open communications, as inhumanity and bar- 
barism. Captain Geisinger of the American man-of-war 
Peacock was informed by the Dutch superintendent of trade 


at Nagasaki of the imprisonment of American sailors from 
the American whaler Ladoga. These men, originally fifteen 
in number, had, on account of harsh treatment, deserted in 
boats. Drifting to an island near Matsmai, they were seized 
and imprisoned. Suspected to be spies, they were harshly 
treated, and on trying repeatedly to escape, the rigors of 
confinement were doubled, driving one to suicide and an- 
other to death by quack's poison. When their Japanese 
guards were told that such cruelty would bring down ven- 
geance from the United States, they laughed sneeringly, 
one of them saying that Americans cared nothing for their 
shipwrecked sailors, for a Japanese in Yedo Bay had in- 
sulted an American chief and nothing had been done in 
punishment of the outrage. 

Lieutenant Glynn, in the little ten-gun brig Preble, was 
sent, not to request but to demand their release. If unsuc- 
cessful at Nagasaki, he must go to Yedo. The time for olive 
branches had passed. 

Glynn was the man for the hour. No cordon of guard 
boats, lashed together at stem and stern, for him! He 
threatened, if such humiliation were attempted, to blow 
the imprisoning wall to pieces. He went further by push- 
ing on his ship, despite batteries on the bluffs, and the pro- 
test of the petty native officers in his cabin, up to the city 
of Nagasaki. Demanding the quick delivery of the American 
seamen on his deck, he trained his guns on the city. In im- 
potent fear of their cold, black, iron noses, the haughty 
minions of the Bakufu yielded at once. Glynn's guns were 
too real, and the man was not to be fooled with. He sailed 
off, having set a mark for the coming Perry. The effete 
bureaucrats in the Tycoon's capital were mightily impressed. 

At home the problem of Japan still commanded attention. 
Glynn planned and recommended a diplomatic mission to 
Japan ; but, being but a lieutenant, his document, even if 
written to a Cabinet officer, reached only the pigeonholes at 
Washington. In 1848, our Secretary of the Treasury re- 
ported that the commerce of Japan, but two weeks by steam 
from our western coast, "can be secured to us by persever- 


ing and peaceful efforts." Highly advanced in civilization, 
containing fifty millions of people [thirty millions then, 
fifty millions including Formosa in 1905], the prize was 
worth seeking. In August, 1850, Glynn's report of his 
Japan experiences was published and whetted interest in 
the tantalizing lure. In conversation, in the newspapers, 
in Congress and in Cabinet, the question was discussed. 
The surcharged solution, with fresh material added daily, 
increased in strength towards the point of saturation. 
Crystallization could not be far off. Yet who should drop 
the solidifying lump? Should Glynn, McCluney, Geisinger, 
Aulick, Perry all veterans under the flag lead the "peace- 
ful armada"? On Feb. 24, 1851, Glynn wrote to the firm 
of Rowland & Aspinwall on Chinese trade, the necessity of 
a coaling station on the coast of Japan and the hopeful pros- 
pect of any Japanese negotiations. 

Still the rescue of Japanese waifs far out on the Pacific 
continued, as the northern seas grew less lonely and more 
populous as the highway of nations. Across this ocean ave- 
nue, humanity could afford no such obstacle as a Thornrose 
Castle to exist. Not only California, but all the world de- 
manded coal. The day of the wind as motor was over. The 
hour of steam had come. Japan, rich in the black diamonds 
of the new era, held treasures for the race. The rays of 
desire to open the treasure-house were converging and fo- 
cussing to the burning point. On the Qth of May, 1851, 
the brave and veteran sailor. Commodore Aulick, read in 
the newspapers of the landing at San Francisco of some 
Japanese waifs picked up at sea by Captain Jennings of the 
bark Auckland. On the loth he wrote a letter to Secretary 
Daniel Webster calling his attention to the incident as offer- 
ing an opportunity of showing friendship and proposing 
negotiations with a view to commercial intercourse. Web- 
ster sought the advice of the one man who had made the 
Japanese yield to the demands of humanity, Commodore 
Glynn, and also of Aaron Palmer the statistician. Mr. 
Webster drafted a letter to the "emperor" of Japan, which 
President Fillmore read and signed. Aulick was clothed 


with full powers as treaty maker and set out joyfully, by 
way of Brazil, on the new steam frigate Susquehanna. 

How the brave sailor came to grief through mild indis- 
cretion and much tittle-tattle, and, broken in health, was 
recalled from China, getting his name cleared from stain, 
but too late for the glory of the Japan possibilities, is a sad 
story. Yet success with his meagre force was problematical. 
The story of the Perry Expedition has been often told, 
but not the part which Mr. Fillmore had in it. Despite 
the wanton posthumous destruction of his papers by his 
son's executor, we have abundant written and personal 
testimony that it was Mr. Fillmore that made certain the 
choice of Perry and secured to him the force he needed, so 
that the Yedo Bakufu did not attempt either defiance or 
resistance, but yielded gracefully to peaceful negotiation. 
It was Mr. Fillmore, who, after the recall of Aulick and 
resignation of both the Cabinet officers most concerned in 
the Japan matter, kept up the good work. The President 
was really responsible for Perry's success, through rein- 
forcement in diplomatic powers and in the equipment and 
prompt despatch of transports, coal, and war vessels. When 
Webster, ill and dying, left his portfolio, Mr. Fillmore sum- 
moned Edward Everett to revise and emphasize the letter 
to the "emperor." When William A. Graham, Secretary 
of the Navy, became, with Scott, who was nominated for 
the presidency, a candidate for popular suffrage, and resigned 
from office, the journals of the new Secretary, John R. Ken- 
nedy, show that President Fillmore's choice was for Perry 
as the diplomatist, while other witnesses, including the tes- 
timony of Mr. Fillmore, in private and public, demonstrate 
that he persisted in keeping Perry's force not merely a brace 
of ships, or even a squadron, but a real fleet of eight steam- 
ers and frigates mounting 230 cannon, besides coaling ves- 
sels and transports, having in all over 2,000 men. 

In all this, as a matter of settled policy, Millard Fillmore, 
as a lover of humanity and an ardent advocate of peace, was 
entirely right. He was true to his record. When Mr. 
Fillmore was in Congress, during the thirties, the affair of 


the Caroline, in Canadian waters when the American flag, 
which the writer has seen in the United Service Museum 
in London, was captured took place. For this outrage, 
no honorable satisfaction was ever made to the United 
States. In the discussion, which, to the discredit of our 
country, ended only in verbal boasts, Mr. Fillmore said: 
"The best way to avoid a war with Great Britain is to show 
that we are prepared to meet her. . . . Reasonable 
preparations for defence are better than gasconading." In 
short, Washington's forgotten maxim, "In time of peace, 
prepare for war," was remembered by Fillmore. Japan's 
impotency in 1853 did but confirm this warning and principle. 
It is certain that one of the soundest, most convincing and 
most often used arguments in the councils of Yedo was the 
uselessness, because of the impossibility, of resisting Perry's 
potencies. In the face of a proposition of friendship and 
honorable treatment from the United States, refusal, a 
repetition of the Biddle incident, or insult was madness. 
Hence the treaty. 

Today, at Kuriharna, fronting Yedo Bay, where the letter 
of President Fillmore in its golden casket was delivered to 
the Sho-gun's envoys, a monolith arises in Perry Park bear- 
ing a shining and gilded inscription to the glory of Perry. 
This is right. With the Mikado as chief donor, and the 
Marquis Ito as penman, it tells what the Commodore did. 
With equal truth of history might other Americans, who 
helped in the grand consummation from 1797 to 1853, be 
remembered; but, in such a list, Millard Fillmore's name 
ought to lead them all. On Feb. 2, 1874, in presence of Col. 
C. O. Shepherd, ex-consul of the United States to Japan, 
Mr. Fillmore, then unconscious that his quick decease was 
to follow a few weeks later, modestly asked to state "a few 
facts not popularly known." His words, as reported in the 
Buffalo newspapers and American Historical Record, 
showed that in 1852 he knew well the reality concerning the 
abominable Japanese prisons as they were half a century 
ago and the cruelty practiced on American shipwrecked 
men made prisoners. The facts are that all the resolutions 


concerning Perry's expedition "were in full Cabinet coun- 
cils, in which there was no difference of opinion, but the 
fullest accord." A great fleet, making a "show of power, 
might be deemed a persuader in procuring a treaty." Perry 
was to "use no violence, unless he was attacked." Thus, 
though Perry was "cautioned against making any attack, 
he was fully authorized in the event of being attacked by 
the Japanese, to use the power of the Government in repell- 
ing it, and to satisfy the jealous islanders that they were 
dealing with a Government competent and willing to pro- 
tect its own citizens." 

As a student of both Japanese and American history, I 
cannot but believe that to Millard Fillmore belongs equal 
honors with Matthew Perry, for the success of the Japan 
Expedition. In this year of the Portsmouth Treaty, let 
Fillmore's name receive fresh lustre reflected from the past ; 
while for the future, and until some better method is dis- 
covered, let the Mikado's Empire and the American Republic 
remember the teaching alike of Washington and Fillmore as 
to the best way of avoiding war. 

NOTE It is my purpose to collect materials for a biography of Millard 
Fillmore, showing his place in the history of the United States and of civiliza- 
tion; for which I respectfully beg the cooperation of those who knew him. 

[Some reminiscences of Millard Fillmore will be found in an appendix 
of this volume. EDITOR.] 





Copyright, 1906, by F. H. Severance 





The following chapters are a portion of an extended study, as 
yet unpublished, of the operations of the French on the Lower 
Lakes, with especial reference to the history of the Niagara region. 
The sources from which the narrative is drawn are almost wholly 
documentary, both printed and in manuscript. The most important 
printed sources are the "London Documents" and "Paris Docu- 
ments," which constitute volumes five and nine of the "Documents 
relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York." In 
order to avoid cumbering my pages with many foot-notes referring 
to these documents, this general acknowledgment of authorities is 
here deemed sufficient. Some examination of the manuscripts them- 
selves has been made in various depositories, especially the Public 
Records Office and the British Museum in London, the Canadian 
Archives Office at Ottawa, and in the manuscripts office of the New 
York State Library at Albany. Some facts have been gleaned from 
the Provincial Records of Pennsylvania. There is to be found in 
the printed histories so little regarding Joncaire the elder and the 
special field of his activities, that one may ignore them all with 
little loss, if he have access to the documentary sources, and patience 
to study them. With the exception of the short but precious "His- 
toire du Canada" of the Abbe de Belmont; the "Histoire de 
1'Amerique septentrionale" of De Bacqueville de La Potherie (Paris, 
J 753) J the works of Charlevoix and one or two other chroniclers 


who were contemporary with the events of which they wrote, the 
following narrative is based entirely on the documents themselves. 
The reader should bear in mind, moreover, that these chapters are 
but an excerpt, as already stated, from a study of the whole period 
of French occupancy of our region; and that the true relationship 
and proper values of those events, depend largely on what has pre- 
ceded, and what is to follow, these forty years which I have desig- 
nated the Dark Decades on the Niagara. F. H. S. 





In tracing the history of the Niagara region, one comes 
to a time when records seem to vanish and exploits to cease. 
The story of the early cross-bearers and explorers is much 
more than twice told. The splendid adventuring of La Salle 
has been made the most familiar chapter in the annals of 
the Great Lakes. After him, in the closing years of the 
seventeenth century, a few expeditions, a few futile cam- 
paigns and fated undertakings, have been meagerly chron- 
icled. We read of Le Barre's foolish and fruitless plans, 
of Denonville's pathetic and calamitous establishment at 
the mouth of the Niagara. But with the passing of La Salle 
from the pages of our regional history, the light wanes, the 
shadows deepen. We are come to the Dark Decades on 
the Niagara. 

So one may fairly designate the first forty years of the 
eighteenth century. Speaking broadly, they are a part of 
the century-long strife between France and England for 
American supremacy. There were periods, it is true, in 
these decades, when the rivals were nominally at peace. The 
Treaty of Ryswick, after King William's War, proclaimed 
a peace that was kept from 1697 tu< l 1702; and following 
Queen Anne's War, the Treaty of Utrecht warded off armed 



hostilities from 1713 to 1744. Thus for thirty-five years 
seven eighths of the period under notice there was politi- 
cal peace between France and England ; but on the Niagara, 
and the Great Lakes which it joins, there was never a day 
in all those forty years when the spirit of commercial war- 
fare was not active. 

During these years, the American colonies of the rival 
powers were developing along widely divergent lines. 
France established her distant posts, throughout the lake 
and trans-Alleghany region, her very energy weakening her 
for future defense. The English colonies, and New York in 
particular, devoted themselves more to developing the home 
territory. Both cajoled and bargained with the Indians, both 
exhausted themselves in fighting each other. It was the 
time when the slave trade was encouraged; when piracy 
flourished. But recently were the days when Captain Kidd 
and Morgan and Blackbeard and their kind "sailed and they 
sailed"; and the attention of New York's governors was 
divided between lawless and red-handed exploits on the seas, 
the quarrels of their legislative councillors, and the inter- 
ference of the French in their reach for the fur trade. 

Throughout these Dark Decades there is a figure in our 
regional history which, strive as we may, is at best but 
dimly seen. Now it stands on the banks of the Niagara, a 
shadowy symbol of the power of France. Now it appears 
in fraternal alliance with the Iroquois ; and anon it vanishes, 
leaving no more trace than the wiliest warrior of the Sen- 
ecas, silently disappearing down the dim aisles of his native 
forest. Yet it is around this illusive figure that the story 
of the Niagara centers for forty years. 

This man is the French interpreter, soldier, and Seneca 
by adoption, commonly spoken of by our historical writers 
as Chabert de Joncaire the elder. He never attained high 
rank in the service ; he was a very humble character in com- 
parison with several of his titled superiors who were con- 
spicuous in making the history of our region during the time 
of his activity hereabouts. But it was primarily through his 
skilful diplomacy, made efficient by his peculiar relations to 


the Indians, that France was able to gain a foothold on the 
Niagara, for trade and for defense, and to maintain it for 
more than a quarter of a century. 

His baptismal name was Louis Thomas, de Joncaire ; his 
seigneurial title, Sieur de Chabert. The son of Antoine Marie 
and Gabriel Hardi, he was born, in the year 1670, in the 
little town of St. Remi, of the diocese of Aries, in Provence. 
As a child, he may have played amid the mighty ruins of 
Roman amphitheatres and palaces, and have grown up fami- 
liar with monuments of a civilization which antedated by 
many centuries the Christian era. He came to Canada when 
still a boy, presumably with the marine troops, largely from 
Provence, which accompanied the Chevalier de Vaudreuil 
in 1687. Many years his senior, Vaudreuil often appears as 
his patron and staunchest friend, defending his character 
when villified, and commending him for favor and promo- 
tion. With the facility of the young in picking up the Indian 
speech, Joncaire was soon expert as interpreter. At a later 
period, he enlisted, and held various ranks ; in 1700, quar- 
termaster to the Governor's Guard ; by 1706, a lieutenant of 
the marine forces in Canada. The posts of honor and respon- 
sibility which he held later in life will be duly noted in our 

At an early period Joncaire and several companions were 
taken captive by the Iroquois. I find no account of the time 
or place of Joncaire's capture. In view of his relations to 
Vaudreuil, it is not unlikely that he accompanied that officer 
in the expedition against the Senecas in 1687, and that he 
was taken prisoner. The earliest account of his captivity 
that I find is given by Bacqueville de La Potherie, who 
says : "He was taken in a battle ; the fierceness with which 
he fought a war chief who wished to bind him in order to 
burn his fingers, until the sentence of death could be carried 
out, induced the others to grant him his life, his comrades 
having all been burned at a slow fire. They [i. e., the Iro- 
quois] adopted him, and the confidence which they had in 
him thenceforth, led them to make him their mediator in all 


negotiations." 1 He passed much of his subsequent life 
among the Senecas, and though he won distinction for his 
service to his king and the cause of Canada, he seems never 
to have forfeited the confidence of his red brethren. He did 
not, like many prisoners of the period, wholly sever his con- 
nection with his own people. On the contrary, his intimacy 
with the Senecas proved of the greatest value to Canada in 
the promotion of her plans for trade. 

Whenever Joncaire may have been taken prisoner, he 
was released in the autumn of 1694, with twelve other pris- 
oners, one of whom was M. de Hertel, 2 a French officer 
whose services were of some note at a subsequent period. 
Father Milet, who had been held a prisoner among the 
Oneidas since 1689, was returned to the French at the same 
time. Joncaire had then lived among the Senecas for sev- 
eral years, and had been adopted by a Seneca family to fill 
the place of "a relative of importance," whom they had lost. 
"He ingratiated himself so much with that nation," says 
Colden, "that he was advanced to the rank of a sachem, and 
preserved their esteem to the day of his death ; whereby he 
became, after the general peace, very useful to the French 
in all negotiations with the Five Nations, and to this day 

1. La Potherie was a contemporary of Joncaire, and his "Histoire de 
L'Amerique septentrionale," published in Paris in 1753, contains the fullest 
early account of Joncaire's captivity I have been able to find. La Potherie 
is apparently Parkman's authority; yet I find no other basis than the passage 
above quoted for the following, in "Frontenac and New France under Louis 
XIV.": "The history of Joncaire was a noteworthy one. The Senecas had 
captured him some time before, tortured his companions to death, and doomed 
him to the same fate. As a preliminary torment, an old chief tried to burn 
a finger of the captive in the bowl of his pipe, on which Joncaire knocked 
him down. If he had begged for mercy, their hearts would have been flint; 
but the warrior crowd were so pleased with this proof of courage that they 
adopted him as one of their tribe, and gave him an Iroquois wife." Evidently 
the historian has read into the meager account of La Potherie certain pic- 
turesque and highly probable details drawn from his own knowledge of 
Indian customs and character. As for Joncaire's Indian wife, her existence is 
also highly probable; but I find no proof of it in contemporary records. 

2. "Orchouche, avec les Ouiengiens, ramene 13 esclaves; entre autres, 
M. de Hertel et M. de Joncaire." Belmont, "Histoire du Canada," p. 36. The 
Abbe de Belmont was Superior of the Seminary at Montreal, 1713 to 1724. 
His MS. history is in the Royal Library at Paris. 


they show regard to his family and children." 3 There is no 
implication here, nor in any other writer who may be called 
contemporary with Joncaire, that he married a Seneca 
woman. On March i, 1706, at Montreal, he married Made- 
laine le Guay, by whom, from 1707 to 1723, he had ten chil- 
dren, 4 several of whom died in infancy, and but two of 
whom came to bear a part in their country's history. The 
eldest child, Philippe Thomas de Joncaire, born Jan. 9, 1707, 
is known by his father's title, Chabert, and by many writers 
the two are more or less confused. 5 The seventh child, 
Daniel, Sieur de Chabert et Clausonne, commonly called 
Clausonne, was born in 1716. Both of these sons followed in 
their father's footsteps, and for many years are conspicuous 
figures in the history of the Niagara region. 

The first public service in which we find the senior Jon- 
caire employed was not until six years after his release by 
the Iroquois. He was at the conference in Montreal, July 
18, 1700, between the Chevalier de Callieres and six deputies 
from the Iroquois, two from the Onondagas and four from 
the Senecas. Pledges of peace were made in the figurative 
language employed on such occasions. Callieres was solicit- 
ous about certain Frenchmen and Indian allies of the French 
who were still held in the Iroquois country. The deputies 
declared their willingness to restore them, and asked as a 
special favor that Joncaire return with them, to fetch out the 
captives. This request was granted, Father Bruyas and the 
Sieur de Maricourt being also sent along, the two former to 

3. Colden's "History of the Five Indian Nations of Canada," (London, 
1747), p. 179. 

4. Tanguay, "Dictionnaire Geneologique." The following data are given 
regarding Joncaire's children: Philippe Thomas, b. Jan. 9, 1707; Madelaine, 
b. May 8, 1708, d. 1709; Jean Baptiste, b. Aug. 25, 1709, d. 1709; Louis 
Remain, b. Nov. 18, 1710; Marie Madelaine, b. April, 1712, d. 1712; Louis 
Marie, b. Oct. 28, 1715; Daniel, b. 1716; Madelaine Therese, b. March 23, 
1717; Louis Marie, b. Aug. 5, 1719; Francois, b. June 20, 1723. The family 
home seems always to have been at or near Montreal. Madame de Joncaire, 
mother of these children, is buried in the church at Repentigny. 

5. In Parkman's "Half Century of Conflict," Joncaire and his oldest son 
are spoken of as the same person, and no distinction is made between them in 
the index. 


the Onondagas, Joncaire to the Senecas. "Our son Jon- 
caire," the chiefs called him ; and before the council broke 
up, they solemnly gave to Callieres three strings of wam- 
pum. "We give these," they said, "in consequence of the 
death of Joncaire's father, who managed affairs well, and 
was in favor of peace. We inform Onontio, by these strings 
of wampum, that we have selected Tonatakout, the nearest 
blood relation, to act as his father instead, as he resembles 
[him] in his disposition of a kind parent." We are to under- 
stand that this father who had died was the adoptive father, 
according to the Seneca custom. The Governor expressed 
sympathy; approved the appointment of the new father; 
and gave the Senecas a belt "in token of my sharing your 
sentiments; and I consent that Sieur Joncaire act as envoy 
to convey my word to you and to bring me back yours." 6 
This so pleased the chiefs that they consented that four of 
their people should remain at Montreal until their return. 

Callieres at this period was more concerned in making a 
firm peace with the savages south of Lake Ontario than 
with getting any foothold on the Niagara. In fact, for the 
time, he avoided any movement in that direction. The next 
spring, when he sent La Motte Cadillac and Alphonse de 
Tonty to make their establishment at Detroit, he had them 
follow the old Ottawa route, "by that means," he announced 
beforehand to Pontchartrain, "avoiding the Niagara pas- 
sage so as not to give umbrage to the Iroquois, through fear 
of disturbing the peace, until I can speak to them to prevent 
any alarm they might feel at such proceedings, and until I 
adopt some measures to facilitate the communication and 
conveyance of necessaries from this to that country through 
Lake Ontario." Callieres knew that the minister had very 
much at heart the success of the project on the Detroit ; it 
was not politic to urge at the moment the advantages to be 
gained from a hazardous experiment on the Niagara. The 
band that built Fort Ponchartrain, thereby laying the 
foundations for the city of Detroit, went thither by the 
Ottawa route ; and although there was an occasional passage 

6. N. Y. Col. Docs., IX, 711. 


by way of the Niagara a few of which we can trace, more 
of which, no doubt, we are ignorant of yet for many years 
from the time we are now considering, the prfncipal coming 
and going between the Upper Lakes and the lower St. Law- 
rence was by the northern route. 

Joncaire spent the summer of 1700 among the Senecas in 
the furtherance of his mission. There were no permanent 
Seneca villages at this time west of the Genesee, and there 
is no ground for supposing that he visited the Niagara. 
We do not know when he first came hither. By September 
3d he was back again at Montreal, with Father Bruyas and 
Maricourt from the Onondagas, nineteen "deputies" of the 
Iroquois and thirteen prisoners for restoration to the French. 

Joncaire had found no little trouble in inducing them to 
return. Many a French soldier was brought by the fierce 
Senecas a trembling, fainting captive into their lodges, only 
to be adopted as one of the nation. An alliance with a young 
squaw, by no means always uncomely, quickly followed. 
The rigors and discomforts of the frontier post and wilder- 
ness campaign prepared him to accept with philosophy if not 
with entire satisfaction, the filth and rudeness of savage life. 
In the matters of cruelty and barbarity, the French soldier 
of the period was too often the equal of his Indian brother. 
The freedom of the forest life always appealed to the Gallic 
blood. There was adventure, there was license, there were 
often ease and abundance among his savage captors. If at 
times there were distress and danger, these, too, he had 
known in the King's service. Small wonder, then, that among 
such captives as saved their scalps by reason of some exhi- 
bition of a dauntless spirit, there were many who preferred 
to abide with the red men, in their villages pleasantly seated 
in the beautiful valleys of Central New York, to a return to 
the duties and privations of service in Canada. Once more 
among the French, they knew they need never look for mercy 
again from the Iroquois into whose hands they were ever 
likely to fall. Their point of view must have been entirely 
familiar to Joncaire; though on this and subsequent occa- 
sions he seems faithfully to have sought to induce them to 


Whatever may have been his course, he kept a singularly 
strong hold on the affections of the Senecas. With the party 
that went up to Montreal in September, the Senecas sent 
along a young man. "When Joncaire was in our country," 
said one of their spokesmen to the Governor, "the father of 
this youth whom we restore, was his master; but now it is 
Joncaire who is master of this young man. We give him 
in order that if Joncaire should happen to die, he may be 
regarded as his nephew and may take his place. Therefore 
it is that we give him up to Onontio, whom we beg, with 
the Intendant, to take care of him and to confine him should 
he become wild." And Callieres, as in duty bound, prom- 
ised to care for the youth, and to "furnish him everything 
he shall require to qualify him for filling some day said 
Sieur Joncaire's place." 

For some years following Joncaire was much employed 
on missions of this sort; now sojourning among the Onon- 
dagas or the Senecas, to secure the release of prisoners or 
to spy on the emissaries of the English ; now back at Mon- 
treal, interpreting at councils. In the negotiations of the 
time he seems to have been well nigh indispensable. 

At the general council at Montreal in the summer of 
1701, at which assembled not only representatives of the 
Iroquois, but of tribes from Mackinaw and the West, Jon- 
caire found himself for the time being in an embarrassing 
position. The western tribes, after great difficulty, had been 
induced to send hither the French and Iroquois prisoners, 
for exchange. Here appeared^ the Rat, that greatest and 
most eloquent reel man of his day, of whose eloquence, intel- 
ligence and nobility of character many writers from La 
Potherie to Parkman have testified. The Rat handed over 
to Callieres his Iroquois prisoners, and demanded to know 
why the Five Nations were not delivering up theirs; they 
were not acting in good faith, he said. The Iroquois replied, 
through their orator Teganeout, that their young men had 
charge of the prisoners, and that the latter were unwilling 
to leave the lodges where they had lived since childhood; 
were they French or Western Indian, it mattered not ; they 


had forgotten their own people and were attached to those 
who had adopted them, significantly adding that Joncaire 
had not very strongly urged their return. 

Joncaire rose in the council, acknowledged his fault, and 
begged the Senecas, his brethren, to help him accomplish the 
matter hereafter. High words followed, but later reconcilia- 
tion was effected. 

A few days afterward, the council being still in session, 
the Rat died. In the obsequies that followed, Joncaire was 
singularly conspicuous. The body of the great Huron chief 
lay in state at the Hotel Dieu, in an officer's uniform, with 
side arms, for he held the rank and pay of an officer in the 
French army. 7 After the Governor General and Intendant 
had sprinkled the corpse with holy water, Joncaire led sixty 
warriors from Sault St. Louis to the bier, where they wept 
for the dead, bewailing him in Indian fashion and "covered 
him," which figurative expression signifies that they gave 
presents to his tribesmen. After the imposing funeral, at 
which the ritual of the Roman Catholic church was blended 
with military usage and Indian rites, Joncaire led another 
band of Iroquois to condole with and compliment the 
Hurons, with significant gifts of wampum. 

In these acts Joncaire was undoubtedly at work, not only 
for his Government, but for the Senecas and his own inter- 
ests, which from now on center more and more on the 
western boundary of the Five Nations cantons. French 
interests on the Niagara were not to be jeopardized by a 
needless rupture with the Hurons. 

At a council at Onondaga, in September, 1701, Joncaire 
encountered Capt. Johannes Bleecker and David Schuyler, 
sent out from Fort Orange, as their report has it, "to hinder 
the French debauching of our Indians." The English reports 
of these transactions are less formal and correct than are 
those of the French ; but their vigorous phraseology, height- 
ened by the ignorant or whimsical spelling of the time, adds 
a reality and picturesqueness to the chronicle which the 
Paris documents lack. Joncaire had brought an abundance 

7. Charlevoix, Shea's ed., V, 147. 


of the goods which the Indian craved, a part at least of the 
store intended for the families who consented to release 
their prisoners in exchange. Captain Bleecker and his com- 
panion were irritated at the success which Joncaire and his 
fellows had among "our Indians." "We understand/' said 
Bleecker, "the French are come here to trade. Do you send 
for us to come with such people, if you send for us for every 
Frenchman that comes to trade with you, wee shall have 
work enough and if you will hearken to them they will keep 
you in alarm Continually we know this is the contrivance 
of the Priests to plague you Continually upon pretense of 
Peace and talk [to] you until you are Mad, and as soon as 
these are gott home, the Jesuits have another project if you 
will break your Cranes [craniums?] with such things; we 
advise you brethren when the French comes again, lett them 
smoak their pipe and give them their bellyfull of Victualls 
and lett them goe." 

The Dutch emissaries of the English on this occasion 
heard Joncaire take the Indians roundly to task because 
they promised more than they performed in the matter of 
returning prisoners. He spoke as one who had nothing to 
fear, and consequently his words had weight. After some 
days of it, "Monsieur Jonkeur went his wayes," says the 
English record, and the Dutchmen went back to Albany, 
their chief concern being, as from the first, to secure the 
trade of the Five Nations to themselves. Their plans for 
that trade, even at this period, involved the control of the 
Niagara River. 


From further worry over the friendship of the Iroquois, 
Callieres was spared by death, May 26, 1703; and a new 
and stronger Onontio took his place at the head of the 
administration in Canada. This was the Chevalier de Vau- 
dreuil, whose part in the history of our region is to continue 
important for many years. 


Like his predecessor, he had had experience with the 
Seneca in his native wilds. As we have seen, Vaudreuil 
had come out from France just in time to join Denonville's 
expedition of 1687. He shared in that inglorious campaign, 
coming to the Niagara at its close, and helped to build the 
fort which was destined to be the scene of one of the most 
tragic episodes in the history of French occupancy in 
America. Vaudreuil's personal knowledge of the Niagara 
pass had no doubt its influence in shaping his policy towards 
the Iroquois. In a letter to the minister, Pontchartrain, 
Nov. 14, 1703, his first communication after the death of 
Callieres, he speaks of Joncaire's recent return from a three 
months' sojourn among the Senecas, and declares the inten- 
tion of sending him back to winter among them. This he 
did, but at the first breaking up of the ice in the spring, 
Joncaire appeared at Fort Frontenac with the news that the 
English were preparing to hold a general meeting of the 
Iroquois at Onondaga. 

The neutrality of the Five Nations had now become the 
chief object of solicitude for the French. Joncaire was speed- 
ily sent back to the Senecas, and with him the priest Vail- 
lant, that their combined efforts might defeat the seductive 
overtures of the English. Once more at Onondaga, the 
great capital of the Iroquois, he met his old adversary, Peter 
Schuyler. The Indians were as ready to listen to overtures 
from one party as the other. This attitude alarmed the 
French. Joncaire posted off to Quebec to inform Vaudreuil, 
and was sent back with messages to Ramezay, at Montreal. 

Under the sanction of the French at this time Indian 
parties fell upon certain New England settlements with dire 
results. We must accord to Joncaire a share in the instiga- 
tion of these attacks. He was also an intermediary in nego- 
tiations with the Senecas, regarding an attack upon them by 
the Ottawas ; we find him writing to the Governor, from 
the Seneca capital, under date of July 7, 1705, that "the 
partisans of the English in these villages do all in their 
power to induce the young men to avenge the attack made 
by Outtaouais on them, and that they are restrained only 


by the hope of recovering their prisoners, and by the pro- 
ceedings they have seen me adopt." 

The King and his ministers at Versailles came to have 
great interest in the peculiar services rendered by Joncaire. 
"His Majesty," wrote Pontchartrain to Vaudreuil, June 9, 
1706, "approves your sending Sieur Jonqueres to the Iro- 
quois, because he is esteemed by them and has not the repu- 
tation of a Trader. ... I have no doubt of the truth 
of the information Sieur Jonquieres has given you respect- 
ing the intrigues of the English among the Iroquois. Con- 
tinue to order him to occupy himself with breaking them 
up, and on your part, give the subject all the attention it 

There is among the Paris Documents 8 of the year 1706, 
a paper entitled: "Proposals to be submitted to the Court 
that it may understand the importance of taking possession 
of Niagara at the earliest date, and of anticipating the Eng- 
lish who design to do so," etc. It is unsigned. It does not 
appear to have been written either by Vaudreuil or the 
Intendant, though it was probably by the order of the former 
that it was sent to Versailles. It shows that now, seventeen 
years after the abandonment of Denonville's enterprise, 
the expediency of again attempting a permanent establish- 
ment on the Niagara was being considered. It is worth while 
to note the principal points in favor of the proposition, as 
they were drafted for the edification of the King. 

Niagara was claimed to be the best of all points for trade 
with the Iroquois. It would serve as an entrepot to the es- 
tablishment at Detroit. With a bark on Lake Ontario, goods 
could be brought from Fort Frontenac to the Niagara in a 
couple of days, thus effecting a great saving in time, with 
less risk of loss, than by the existing canoe transportation. 
"It is to be considered," argues this document, "that by this 
establishment we should have a fortress among the Iro- 
quois which would keep them in check; a refuge for our 
Indian allies in case of need, and a barrier that would pre- 

8. N. Y. Col. Docs., IX, 773-775- 


vent them going to trade with the English, as they begin to 
do this year, it being the place at which they cross." 

The foregoing statement fixes, if not exactly the date at 
which traders in the English interest made themselves a 
factor on the Niagara, at any rate the date when the French 
began to think they had, and seriously to fear them. In this 
crisis, they turned to Joncaire, whom the writer of these 
"Proposals" cites as "an officer of the marine forces in 
Canada, who has acquired such credit among the Iroquois, 
that they have repeatedly proposed and actually do suggest 
to him, to establish himself among them, granting him liberty 
to select on their territory the place most acceptable to him- 
self, for the purpose of living there in peace, and even to 
remove their villages to the neighborhood of his residence, in 
order to protect him against their common enemies." This 
was no doubt true, and goes far to show how closely affili- 
ated with the Senecas Joncaire had now become. But the 
proposition that follows is a singularly guileless and child- 
like specimen of statecraft. 

It was urged that the English would take no alarm if 
this good friend of the Senecas, this soldier who lived with 
the Indians in their lodges, should go to the banks of the 
Niagara "without noise, going there as a private individual 
intending simply to form an establishment for his family, at 
first bringing only the men he will require to erect and fortify 
his dwelling, and afterwards on pretence of conveying sup- 
plies and merchandise there, increasing their number insen- 
sibly, and when the Iroquois would see that goods would be 
furnished them at a reasonable rate, far from insulting us, 
they would protect and respect us, having no better friends 
than those who supply them at a low rate." The document 
goes on to show how a monopoly of the beaver trade at 
Niagara may be secured, and to discuss the necessity of 
underselling the English, a thing which the French at this 
period could not do, especially in the price of powder and 
lead, which the English furnished very cheaply to the 


It is suggested in the "Proposals" that the King "grant 
ten or twelve thousand weight of gunpowder and twenty or 
thirty thousand weight of lead, which would be yearly reim- 
bursed to him at the rate his Majesty purchases it from the 
contractor. This would counterbalance the price of the Eng- 
lish article; and then as our powder is better, we would 
thereby obtain the preference ; become masters of the trade 
and maintain ourselves at peace ; for it cannot be doubted 
that those who will be masters of the trade will be also mas- 
ters of the Indians, and that these can be gained only in this 

All of this was to be accomplished by Joncaire's clandes- 
tine establishment at Niagara. The King was reminded, 
somewhat presumptuously, that the Niagara enterprise, on a 
liberal scale, "would be of much greater advantage and less 
expense than carrying on a war against Indians excited by 
the English." Though obviously true, this was hardly the 
way in which to win favor with the war-racked Louis. The 
"Proposals" conclude as follows : 

"After having exposed the necessity of the establishment 
of this post ; the means of effecting it without affording any 
umbrage to the Iroquois, and the most certain means to main- 
tain peace and union with the Indians, it remains for me to 
add, as respects the management of this enterprise, that it 
would be necessary to prevent all the improper Commerce 
hitherto carried on, by the transportaion of Brandy into the 
forest, which has been the cause of all existing disorders and 
evils. In order to avoid these it would be proper, that the 
Court, had it no other views, should give the charge of this 
business to our Governor and Intendant who in order to 
maintain the King's authority in Canada and to labor in con- 
cert for the public peace, would always so cooperate that the 
whole would be accomplished! in a manner profitable to reli- 
gion, trade and the union with the Indians, which are the 
three objects of this establishment." 

There is in this a suggestion of priestly authorship. The 
whole document smacks more of the clerical theorist than 
of the soldier, the trader or the practical administrator of 


affairs. Its recommendations were not followed, though it 
had its effect, along- with other causes, in bringing about 
an investigation into the state of affairs, not only on the 
Niagara, but at other points of trade on the lakes. 

Louis XIV. was by no means satisfied with the informa- 
tion he received through regular channels regarding the 
condition and prospects of the lake posts. He accordingly 
devised a plan for a fuller and more trustworthy report. 
Under date of June 30, 1707, instructions were sent from 
Versailles to M. de Clerambaut d'Aigremont at Quebec, 
imposing upon him a task which called for no little per- 
spicacity and tact. This gentleman, who was serving as 
sub-delegate to the Intendant,the Sieur Raudot,was directed 
to visit Fort Cataracouy (i. e., Frontenac, now Kingston, 
Ont.), Niagara, Detroit and Missilimackinac, "to verify their 
present condition, the trade carried on there and the utility 
they may be to the Colony of Canada." The letter of instruc- 
tions was long and explicit on many delicate matters regard- 
ing which the King wanted light. The administration of 
La Motte Cadillac at Detroit was especially to be inquired 
into, as many complaints and contradictory reports had 
reached the Court. Of Niagara the letter of instructions 

"His Majesty is informed that the English are endeavor- 
ing to seize the post at Niagara, and that it is of very great 
importance for the preservation of Canada to prevent them 
so doing, because were they masters of it, they would bar 
the passage and obstruct the communication with the Indian 
allies of the French, whom as well as the Iroquois they 
would attract to them by their trade, and dispose, whenever 
they please, to wage war on the French. This would deso- 
late Canada and oblige us to abandon it. 

"It is alleged that this post of Niagara could serve as an 
entrepot to the establishment at Detroit, and facilitate inter- 
course with it by means of a bark on Lake Ontario; that 
in fine, such a post is of infinite importance for the mainten- 
ance of the Colony of Canada, and that it can be accom- 
plished by means of Sieur de Joncaire whom M. de Vau- 


dreuil keeps among the Iroquois. His Majesty desires Sieur 
d'Aigremont to examine on the spot whether the project be 
of as great importance for that colony as is pretended, and, 
in such case, to inquire with said Sieur de Joncaire, whether 
it would be possible to obtain the consent of the Iroquois to 
have a fort and garrison there, and conjointly, make a very 
detailed report of the means which would be necessary to 
be used to effect it, and of the expense it would require; 
finally to ascertain whether it would be desirable that he 
should have an interview with said Sieur Joncaire, and that 
they should have a meeting at Niagara." 

Word had reached Louis, which he was loth to accept, 
that Vaudreuil kept Joncaire among the Iroquois for the 
purpose of carrying on profitable trade with them, and of 
destroying the establishment at Detroit. Not the least dif- 
ficult commission with which d'Aigremont was charged was 
to inform himself as to Joncaire's conduct, and report 

There were further instructions, in a letter from the 
minister, Pontchartrain, July 1 3th; but for some reason, 
probably because the season was far advanced, d'Aigremont 
did not undertake his mission until the following summer. 
On June 5, 1708, he set out from Montreal in a large canoe, 
amply provisioned but carrying no merchandise for trade. It 
was in fact the King's express; and so well did his sturdy 
men ply their paddles, up the swift St. Lawrence, through 
the tortuous channels of the Thousand Isles, coasting the 
uncertain lakes fickle seas even in midsummer making the 
great carry around the cataract of Niagara, and hastening 
by lake and river, that they accomplished the journey as far 
as Missilimackinac, stopping at the designated points long 
enough to observe and take testimony, and were back again 
at Montreal, September I2th. D'Aigremont's report, ad- 
dressed to Pontchartrain, is dated November I4th ; so that, 
allowing an average passage to France, more than a year 
and a half elapsed from the day when the King made known 
his will regarding a special investigation into the lake posts, 
till he received the report of his emissary. 


That report is a document of exceptional value for the 
exact data it affords. At Fort Frontenac, where Capt. de 
Tonty was in command, d'Aigremont took the depositions of 
Indian chiefs and other principal men, much of it tending to 
show that Tonty pursued an arbitrary and selfish policy in 
his dealings both with Indian hunters and French soldiers ; 
"yet it is to be remarked," writes the King's reporter, "that 
notwithstanding all these petty larcenies, Mr. de Tonty is 
deeply in debt ; an evident proof that they have not done him 
much good. What may have driven him to it is, the numer- 
ous family he is burdened with, which is in such poor condi- 
tion as to excite pity." After pointing out the difficulty of 
keeping the Indians from carrying their peltries to the Eng- 
lish, and the advisability of maintaining and strengthening 
Frontenac, d'Aigremont goes on to tell of his visit at 

He had left Fort Frontenac on June 20, 1708, and on the 
27th rounded the point that marks the mouth of the Niagara ; 
it had taken him a week to follow the north and west shores 
of the lake from Tonty's disturbed establishment. Joncaire 
had been appraised of his coming. "I found him," writes 
d'Aigremont, "at the site of the former fort." "After con- 
versing some time respecting this post, he admitted, My 
Lord, that the advantages capable of being derived from it, 
by fortifying it and placing a garrison there, would be, 
namely that a number of Iroquois would separate from all 
their villages, and establish themselves there, by whose means 
we could always know what would be going on in those 
Villages and among the English, and that it would be 
thereby easy to obviate all the expeditions that could be 
organized against us. 

"That the Iroquois would trade off there all the moose, 
deer and bear skins, they might bring, as these peltries 
could not be transported to the English except by land, and 
consequently with considerable trouble. 

"That the Mississaguets settled at Lake Ste. Claire, 
who also convey a great many peltry to the English, will not 
fail in like manner to trade off their moose, deer and bear- 
skins there. 


"That the Miamis having, like the Mississaguets, de- 
manded by a Belt of the Iroquois a passage through their 
country to Orange to make their trade, would not fail to sell 
likewise at Niagara the skins that are difficult of transpor- 
tation by land, and this more particularly as the English 
esteem them but little. But, My Lord, these considerations 
appear to me of little importance in comparison with the 
evil which would arise from another side. This would be, 
that all the Beaver brought thither by any nations whatso- 
ever would pass to the English by means of their low-priced 
druggets, which they would have sold there by the Iroquois 
without our being ever able to prevent them, unless by sell- 
ing the French goods at the same rate as the English dis- 
pose of theirs, which cannot be. 

"It is true that this post could be of some consideration 
in respect to Detroit to which it could serve as an entrepot 
for all the goods required for purposes of trade there, which 
could be conveyed from Fort Frontenac to Niagara by 
bark; a vessel of forty tons being capable of carrying as 
many goods as twenty canoes. Though these goods could, 
by this means, be afforded at Detroit at a much lower rate 
than if carried by canoes to Niagara, the prices would be 
still much higher than those of the English. This, there- 
fore, would not prevent them drawing away from Detroit 
all the Beaver that would be brought there. 

"The post of Niagara cannot be maintained except by 
establishing that of La Galette [on the St. Lawrence, a little 
below present Ogdensburg], because the soil of Fort Fron- 
tenac being of such a bad quality, is incapable of producing 
the supplies necessary for the garrison, its last one having 
perished only from want of assistance, as they almost all 
died of the scurvy." 

D'Aigremont discussed at length the advisibility of creat- 
ing an establishment at La Galette as a base of supplies for 
Niagara; but he did not think a post could be established 
at Niagara at this time with entire success : "At least great 
precautions would [need be] taken at the present time, and 
whoever would propose an extensive establishment there 


at once would not fail to be opposed by the Iroquois. Such 
cannot be arranged with them except by means of Mr. de 
Longueuil or of Sieur Joncaire, one or other of whom could 
propose to settle among them at that point, as the Iroquois 
look on these two officers as belonging to their nation. But 
my Lord/' d'Aigremont significantly adds, "the former 
would be preferable to the latter because there is not a man 
more adroit than he or more disinterested. I do not say the 
same of the other, for I believe his greatest study is to think 
of his private business, and private business is often injuri- 
ous to public affairs, especially in this colony, as I have had 
occasion frequently to remark." 

D'Aigremont thought * there was so little prospect that 
the post of Niagara could be established, that he did not 
take the trouble to report an estimate of the expense such 
a project would incur; but bearing in mind the King's 
remarks regarding the motives which led Vaudreuil to keep 
Joncaire among the Iroquois, he replied to this point as 
follows : 

"I do not think the Iroquois will suffer the English even 
to take possession of that post [Niagara], because if they 
were masters of it, they could carry on all the trade inde- 
pendent of the former, which does not suit them. 

"The Marquis de Vaudreuil sends Sieur de Joncaire 
every year to the Iroquois. He draws from the King's 
stores for these Indians powder, lead and other articles to 
the value of 2,000 livres, or thereabouts, which he divides 
among the Five Nations as he considers best. Some there 
are who believe that he does not give them all, and that he 
sells a portion to them; or at least that he distributes it to 
them as if it were coming from himself, thereby to oblige 
these Indians to make him presents. What's certain is, that 
he brings back from those parts a great many peltries. I 
am assured that they reach fully 1000 annually ; in the last 
voyage he made, he brought down two canoes full of them. 
He left one of them at the head of the Island of Montreal 
["bout de I' isle"}, and had the peltries carted in through the 
night. As for the rest, My Lord, I do not know whether 
the Marquis de Vaudreuil has any share in this trade." 


The Minister acknowledged this report in due time. 
Writing from Versailles, July 6, 1709, he said: "In regard 
to the post of Niagara, it is not expedient under any cir- 
cumstances; and as there is no apprehension that the Iro- 
quois will take possession thereof, it is idle to think of it. 
Therefore we shall not require either Sieur Longueil, or 
Sieur Jonquaire [sic] for that" ; and he added that he would 
have the latter "watched in what relates to the avidity he 
feels to enrich himself out of the presents the King makes 
these Indians, so as to obviate this abuse in future." Even 
though Joncaire were chargeable with undue thrift, Pont- 
chartrain evidently felt that he was by all odds the best 
man to manage the Iroquois in the French interest. 

We here encounter for the first time insinuations against 
the character of Joncaire. In the King's service, he was 
charged with using his opportunities to enrich himself. 
There are many allusions to this not very surprising mat- 
ter, from now on. He continued for several years to come, 
in much the same employment as that which we have noted. 
He never lost the confidence of Vaudreuil possibly, as the 
foregoing correspondence may have suggested to the reader, 
because they were allied for personal profit in a surreptitious 
fur-trade. In November, 1708, we find the Governor com- 
mending him in a letter to the Minister. "Sieur de Jon- 
caire," he writes, "possesses every quality requisite to ensure 
success. He is daring, liberal, speaks the [Seneca] lan- 
guage in great perfection, hesitates not even whenever it is 
necessary to decide. He deserves that your Grace should 
think of his promotion, and I owe him this justice, that he 
attaches himself with great zeal and affection to the good 
of the service." 

Joncaire at this period, 1708-9, was much of the time at 
Onondaga, doing what he could to counterbalance English 
influence. This was a task which yearly grew more and 
more difficult. Although Joncaire to the end of his days 
retained the good will of the Iroquois, and especially of the 
Senecas, he saw the hold of the French upon them gradu- 
ally weakened, the temptations of English trade gradually 
and effectively strengthened. 


Meanwhile, there came a critical time. Schuyler and 
others in English interests, were very active at Onondaga; 
reports reached Vaudreuil that the Iroquois were declaring 
against the French, that troops were about setting out from 
Fort Orange to strike a blow. The French missionaries, 
Lamberville and Mareuil, were frightened or cajoled into 
leaving. A party of drunken Indians burned the chapel and 
priest's house at Onondaga, being set on thereto, the French 
believed, by Schuyler. Joncaire and his soldiers were at 
Sodus Bay, some forty-five miles away, when this happened. 
He sent word of it, June 14, 1709, by canoe to M. de la 
Fresniere, commanding at Frontenac. His letter 9 shows 
that he was thoroughly alarmed for the safety of himself andi 
men. . Regaining his assurance, he went back to the Senecas. 

Just before this, his men had killed one Montour, a French- 
man among the Senecas, as alleged, in the English interest. 
Joncaire' s return to the Senecas at this time won for him 
more warm praise from Vaudreuil, who wrote to Pontchar- 
train that Joncaire, "by his return to the Senecas, has given 
evidence of all the firmness that is to be expected from a 
worthy officer who has solely in view the good of his 

g. The letter referred to, sent from Sodus Bay ("Bay of the Cayugas") 
to M. de la Fresniere, commanding at Fort Frontenac, is one of the few docu- 
ments written by Joncaire known to be in existence. Its phraseology helps 
us form a just idea of the writer, who expresses himself, not as a rough 
woods-ranger might, but as one accustomed to letters and good society. This 
letter, as printed in N. Y. Col. Docs., IX, 838, is as follows: 

BAY OF THE CAYUGAS, 14 June, 1709. 

SIR Affairs are in such confusion here that I do not consider my soldiers 
safe. I send them to you to await me at your fort, because should things 
take a bad turn for us, I can escape if alone more readily than if I have them 
with me. It is not necessary, however, to alarm Canada yet, as there is no 
need to despair. I shall be with you in twenty or twenty-five days at farthest, 
and if I exceed that time, please send my canoe to Montreal. Letters for the 
General will be found in my portfolio, which my wife will take care to deliver 
to him. If, however, you think proper to forward them sooner, St. Louis 
will hand them to you. But I beg of you that my soldiers may not be the 
bearers of them, calculating with certainty to find them with you when I 
arrive, unless I exceed twenty-five days. 

The Revd. Father de Lamberville has placed us in a terrible state of 
embarrassment by his flight. Yesterday, I was leaving for Montreal in the 
best possible spirits. Now, I am not certain if I shall ever see you again. 

I am, sir and dear friend, your most humble and most obedient servant, 



Majesty's service." Later this year Joncaire went to Mon- 
treal with Father d'Heu and a French blacksmith who had 
been for some years in the Seneca villages, and a band of 
some forty Senecas as escort. 

In July, 1710, the French took alarm lest the Iroquois 
should join the English in a threatened expedition against 
Canada. Longueuil and Joncaire, with ten other French- 
men and some Indians, hastened to Onondaga, where the 
French, through Joncaire, as interpreter, made an exceed- 
ingly vigorous harangue, threatening the Indians with dire 
vengeance if they shared in the hostile movement. "If you 
do," said Joncaire (as reported in the English documents), 
"we will not only come ourselves, but sett the farr Nations 
upon you to destroy you your wifes and Children Root & 
Branch. ... Be quiett and sett still." There was a di- 
vided sentiment in this council, but finally the French influ- 
ence appeared to prevail, though a delegation of Indians soon 
appeared in Albany to inform Governor Robert Hunter of 
all that Joncaire had said, and to receive English assurances 
of friendship. On the other hand, a little later, Vaudreuil 
reported the matter to the Minister. 10 He begged of Mon- 
signeur Ponchartrain that he specially remember the ser- 
vices of Joncaire and Longueuil, "who expose themselves 
to being burnt alive, for the preservation of the country in 
keeping peace with the Iroquois, who without them would 
inevitably make war." Joncaire, he added, has the same 
influence among the Senecas that Longueuil has with the 
Onondagas. Notwithstanding that Joncaire, the preceding 
summer, "was obliged to stay among them, and to send back 
his soldiers, in fear lest they would be put in the kettle, 
exposing himself alone to the caprice of these people in 
order to endeavor to keep the peace," yet he still continued 
to receive their favor, "as if himself a Seneca." At this 
time, the French flattered themselves that they could count 
on the friendship of all of the Five Nations except the Mo- 
hawks, who were most under English influence. 

We find Joncaire, in September, carrying messages from 
M. de Ramezay, commandant at Frontenac, to Vaudreuil at 

10. Vaudreuil to Ponchartrain, Nov. 30, 1710. 


Montreal. It was from Joncaire that the Governor received 
the first intelligence of the preparations which the English 
were making at Boston and elsewhere, to attack Canada. 

When Ramezay, in 1710, marched against the English, 
Joncaire commanded the Iroquois from Sault St. Louis and 
the Mountain, who made up the rear of the army; and he 
was probably with Vaudreuil, in September of that year in 
the advance to Chambly in quest of the English. More 
urgent matters in the East for a time withdrew the attention 
of Government from the Niagara and its problems. Still, 
no emergency could arise which could make Vaudreuil for- 
getful of the Iroquois. 


For the next few years Joncaire continued to go back 
and forth between Montreal, where he acted as interpreter, 
and the Seneca villages, where he was supposed to be at work 
to offset the influences of the English, chiefly as made mani- 
fest through Peter Schuyler. We find record that he was 
among the Senecas in 1710 and again in 1711. 

At a great war-banquet in Montreal, in August, 1711, at 
which 700 or 800 warriors assembled, "J onca i re an d la 
Chauvignerie first raised the hatchet and sang the war-song 
in Ononthio's name." This was on receipt of the news that 
the English were preparing to attack Quebec. Many of the 
Indians answered the cry of the warlike Joncaire with 
applause, only the Indians from the upper country hesitat- 
ing, because they had, almost all, been trading with the 
English ; but in the end, twenty Detroit Hurons taking up 
the hatchet, all who were present declared for the French. 
The incident shows of what great value Joncaire was to the 
cause of the French at this critical time, in holding for them 
the good will of the Iroquois and tribes to the westward. 

The next year, 1712, he was for a time in command at 
Fort Frontenac, in place of the Sieur de la Fresniere, who 
was incapacitated by fever. At this time the Senecas were 
much disturbed over matters to the westward. They feared, 


in the event of an outbreak against Detroit or by the tribes 
at the Sault, that they would be beset on the Niagara side. 
They sent a large delegation to Montreal, but declared to 
Vaudreuil "that they should not speak unless Sieur de 
Joncaire were present." That officer arrived from Fort 
Frontenac in September. We have not the details of the 
conference that followed ; but the Senecas made their usual 
pledges of confidence in the French. At the same time, 
other tribes assembled at Onondaga were showing decided 
preference for the English, and sending word to the Indians 
at the Sault, requesting them "to remain passive on their 
mats, and not to take any sides," whatever might happen. 

For the next few years I find little trace of Joncaire ; but 
there is no reason to suppose that he did not continue in the 
same service as for the preceding years. 

By his influence among the Iroquois, Joncaire was 
enabled to render a peculiar service in the summer of 1715. 
The post of Michilimackinac was distressed through lack 
of provisions. An appeal was made to Dubisson, com- 
manding at Detroit ; but he sent word that the corn supply 
had run so short that he had been obliged to send the Sieur 
Dupuy to the Miamis to try to buy of them, but it was 
doubtful if they could supply enough. In this extremity 
Ramezay appealed to Joncaire, who went among his Iro- 
quois friends in the villages of Central New York and 
bought 300 minots of corn about 900 bushels. This he 
made the Indians carry to the shore of Lake Ontario, some 
twenty leagues from the place of purchase. There it was 
loaded into the canoes for Capt. Deschaillons and dispatched 
to the distressed post; but all of this occasioned such de- 
lays that a hundred Frenchmen and Canadians were allowed 
to leave Mackinac and go down to Montreal to winter. 

In the autumn of 1716, on his return to Montreal from 
the Iroquois cantons, Lieut, de Longueuil had called the 
attention of MM. de Ramezay and Begon to the need of a 
"little establishment" "on the north [east] side of Niagara, 
on Lake Ontario, 100 leagues from the fort of Frontenac, 
a canoe journey of seven or eight days." Such a post, he 


claimed, would attract the Missisagas and Amicoues to trade 
with the Iroquois, when the latter went to hunt in the vicin- 
ity of Lake Erie. He also proposed that a barque should 
be built to serve as a transport between Frontenac and 
Niagara, claiming that it would be a sure means of concili- 
ating the Iroquois and of gaining a great part of the fur 
trade which now went to the English. With such a post at 
Niagara, it would be possible to keep the coureurs de bois 
from trading in Lake Ontario, either by seizing their goods 
or arresting the traders, who were working mischief for the 
traffic at Fort Frontenac. De Ramezay, in communicating 
these views to Vaudreuil, commented that if such a post 
were approved, the trade there should be kept to the King's 
account. 11 The Marquis de Vaudreuil would not agree to 
establish this post at Niagara until the Iroquois should ask 
for it. The council approved, granting permission to pro- 
ceed as suggested, if the Senecas wished it. This proposed 
establishment was never built, but we have in Longueuil's 
suggestions another form of the project which some four 
years later was to take shape in the Magazin Royal at Lew- 
iston, and nearly ten years later in the permanent foundation 
of Fort Niagara. Due recognition must be taken of 
Longueuil's foresight at this time. Apparently to him, and 
not to Joncaire, is due the suggestion which later ripened 
into the Niagara establishment. Though employed for 
many years in similar service, the one among the Onondagas, 
the other with the Senecas, and though equally commended, 
in despatches to the Minister, for their zeal and sagacity, a 
certain distinction attaches to Longueuil and his part in our 
history, which is not shared by Joncaire; a distinction due 
no doubt to family and social standing, rather than to native 
ability or devotion to the service. 

October 24, 1717, at a conference, apparently held at 
Onondaga, the Senecas made the surprising inquiry, if 
Joncaire were not among them "only as a Spy." He had 
spent the winter of 1716-17 in the Senecas' country. In 

ii. MM. de Ramezay and Begon, at Quebec, to the Council of Marine, 
Paris, Nov. 7, 1716. 


spite of his affiliation and long-standing friendship with 
the Senecas, "a rumor prevailed that he had been sent 
thither to amuse them whilst preparations were being made 
to march against them in the Spring." 12 This suspicion of 
Joncaire was undoubtedly due to the influence of the Eng- 
lish, which by this time had become predominant among the 
eastern Indians of the Federation. Even the Senecas were 
wavering and doubtful. Joncaire, when charged with being 
a spy, "did all in his power to disabuse them; but though 
highly esteemed among and even adopted by them, he could 
not succeed in removing their suspicion, for at the moment 
of his departure for Montreal, they sent a chief of high 
character with him to know from him whether it were true 
that he designed to attack them." 

So reads the somewhat obscure document. The object of 
the embassy to Montreal was obviously to learn, not from 
Joncaire but from Vaudreuil, if any steps were to be taken 
hostile to the Senecas. Later, a delegation of chiefs and 
forty others arrived and were given audience by Vaudreuil. 
With elaborate ceremony they bewailed the death of the old 
King, 13 gave to Vaudreuil a belt which they begged he 
would send to the young King, whom they asked to take 
them under his protection ; and did not omit the usual 
request at these conferences, that Joncaire, the de Lon- 
gueuils, father and son, and De la Chauvignerie, "Should 
be allowed to go into their villages whenever they would 
wish to do so, or should be invited by their nations. They 
added, that they were fully aware that there were some 
people (meaning the English) whom this would not please, 
but no notice must be taken of such ; that they were the 
masters of their own country, and wished their children to 
be likewise its masters, and to go thither freely whenever 
M. de Vaudreuil should permit them." This declaration of 
mastery in their own country illustrates anew the unstable 

12. Proceedings in the Council of the Marine, June 25, 1718, signed L. 
A. de Bourbon and Le Marechal D'Estrees. The document is marked: "To 
e taken to my Lord the Duke of Orleans." See N. Y. Col. Docs., IX, 876-878. 
13- Louis XIV. had died Sept. i, 1715. 


and bewildered state of mind in which the Five Nations then 
were. Some years since, they had formally deeded their 
country to William III.; and on more than one occasion 
they had acknowledged the authority of the French. 

In June, Alphonse de Tonty left Montreal for Detroit, 
at which post he had been granted the privilege of trade, 
on condition that he would confine his operations to the 
jurisdiction of Detroit, nor send goods for sale to distant 
tribes. In crossing Lake Ontario, on his way to Niagara, 
he met nine canoes, all going to Albany to trade. Three 
were from Mackinac, three from Detroit and three from 
Saginaw. Tonty endeavored to head off this prospective 
trade for the English, and succeeded so well, heightening 
his arguments by substantial presents, that they all agreed 
not to go to Albany, but to go with him to Detroit. 

Two days later, when this imposing flotilla was within 
six miles of Niagara, they fell in with seventeen canoes, 
full of Indians and peltries. In reply to his inquiries, these 
also admitted that they were going to Albany to trade, 
though they added that they were coming to Detroit after- 
wards. Tonty was equal to the emergency. Inspired by self- 
interest as well as loyalty to his government, "he induced 
them also to abandon their design, by the promise that the 
price of merchandise at Detroit should be diminished, and 
he would also give them some brandy." 14 There followed a 
judicious distribution of this potent commodity. 

One is tempted to conjure up the scene. Here were 
twenty-six laden canoes, not counting Tonty's own boats. 
They had come long journeys from remote and widely sepa- 
rated points, and their one objective point was the English- 
men's trading-place on the Hudson. But no sooner do they 
come under the blandishments of the Frenchman, and scent 
the aroma of his brandy-kegs, then these long-cherished 
plans so arduously followed, are thrown to the winds. They 
beach their canoes at or near the point of Niagara. A cask 
of liquor is broached, and Tonty permits the thirsty savages 

14. Report of L. A. de Bourbon, secretary, Council of Marine, Oct. 12, 


"to buy two or three quarts of brandy each, to take to their 
villages. But they first agreed that it should be carefully 
distributed by a trusty person." 

In spite of these reassuring precautions, the transaction 
seems somewhat to have burdened his mind, for he thought 
it well to explain that "he hoped the council would not dis- 
approve of what he had done, nor of the continuance of the 
same course, as he had no other intention than merely to 
hinder the savages from going to the English." 

He succeeded fairly well in that purpose. After the dis- 
tribution of brandy, they all reembarked, seven of the 
canoes promising to go to Montreal. Tonty sent back with 
them his trusty interpreter, L'Oranger, to keep them from 
changing their minds as they paddled down the lake. "He 
was only able to conduct six of them to Montreal; the 
seventh escaped and went to Orange." 

Meanwhile ten canoes joined the commandant's own 
retinue ; all paddled swiftly up the Niagara to the old land- 
ing, made the toilsome portage around the falls and pushed 
on together for Detroit, where they arrived July 3d. It was 
a typical move in the game that was being played, and 
France had gained the point. 

This expedition was notable for its use of the Niagara 
route. Only a few years before we find Vaudreuil explain- 
ing to the Minister that he dispatched the Sieur de Lignery 
to Mackinac, and Louvigny to Detroit, by the Ottawa-river 
route, because the Senecas had warned him that a band of 
Foxes lay in wait for plunder at the Niagara portage, or on 
Lake Erie. 15 If this were not duplicity on the part of the 
Senecas, it shows that war parties from the West foraged 
as far east as the Niagara; notwithstanding the supposed 
jealousy with which the. Senecas guarded it. 

15. Vaudreuil to the Minister, Oct. 15, 1712. In a subsequent letter, 
Nov. 6, 1712, Vaudreuil speaks of the band of Otagamis (. e. Outagamis, other- 
wise Foxes or Sacs), led by one Vonnere, who lay in wait at the Niagara port- 
age, so that an expedition for Detroit led by M. de Vincennes was sent by 
the Ottawa River route, "not only to avoid these savages, but to prevent the 
convoy from being pillaged by the Iroquois," etc. The name "Vonnere" is 
found elsewhere in the more probable form "Le Tonnerre," i. e., "Thunderbolt." 


Again we lose sight of Joncaire for a time ; but the events 
of 1720, a date of great importance in the history of the 
Niagara, indicate that he was long busy with plans for giv- 
ing the French a foothold on the river, and that even his 
Seneca friends had increasing cause to regard him with 

The attention of the Government was turning more seri- 
ously than ever before, to the Niagara passage as a means 
of reaching the upper posts. A "Memoir on the Indians of 
Canada, as far as the River Mississippi, with remarks on 
their manners and trade," dated 1718, affords an interesting 
glimpse of our river at that period : 

"The Niagara portage is two leagues and a half to three 
leagues long, but the road, over which carts roll two or three 
times a year, is very fine, with very beautiful and open 
woods through which a person is visible for a distance of 
600 paces. The trees are all oaks, and very large. The 
soil along the entire [length] of that road is not very good. 
From the landing, which is three leagues up the river, four 
hills are to be ascended. Above the first hill there is a 
Seneca village of about ten cabins, where Indian corn, beans, 
peas, watermelons and pumpkins are raised, all which are 
very fine. These Senecas are employed by the French, from 
whom they earn money by carrying the goods of those who 
are going to the upper country ; some for mitasses, 16 others 
for shirts, some for powder and ball, whilst some others 
pilfer; and on the return of the French, they carry their 
packs of furs for some peltry. This portage is made for 
the purpose of avoiding the Cataract of Niagara, the grand- 
est sheet of water in the world, having a perpendicular fall 
of two or three hundred feet. This fall is the outlet of 
Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan, Superior, and consequently 
of the numberless rivers discharging into these lakes, with 
the names of which I am not acquainted. The Niagara 
portage having been passed, we ascend a river six leagues 

1 6. According to O'Callaghan, this is another instance of the adoption of 
Indian words by Europeans. Mitas is not a French but an Algonquin word 
for stockings or leggings, in the "Vocabulary" of La Hontan, II, 223. 


in length and more than a quarter of a league in width, in 
order to enter Lake Erie, which is not very wide at its 
mouth. The route by the Southern, is much finer than that 
along the Northern shore. The reason that few persons 
take it is, that it is thirty leagues longer than that along the 
north. There is no need of fasting on either side of this 
lake, deer are to be found there in such great abundance; 
buffaloes are found on the South, but not on the North 

This valuable Memoir, long and full of explicit informa- 
tion regarding the lake region, and the country and peoples 
to the west as far as the Mississippi, is of unknown author- 
ship. It was probably written by some French officer as- 
signed to a western post. As regards the Niagara, it ante- 
dates by three years the visit of the Jesuit Charlevoix, and it 
gives us our first information of Seneca settlement on the 
banks of the river. Although throughout these earlier years 
and for some time yet to come the Ottawa route was used 
more than the Niagara, yet there can be no doubt that, prior 
to 1720, many an expedition to the West had passed this 
way. Many a canoe, coming now singly, now in pairs, now 
in numbers, had no doubt carried the coureur de bois, and 
the trader with his merchandise, from Lake Ontario up the 
beautiful stretch of green water till stopped by the rapids in 
the gorge ; had made the steep climb up those "mountains" 
and followed the well-worn path of the long portage until, 
in navigable water above the great cataract, a new embar- 
kation could be made with safety. Many a voyageur, too, 
returning from the West, as messenger from one of the 
upper posts or with canoes laden with packets of skins, had 
no doubt braved the dangers and difficulties of the Iroquois 
route, that he might sooner reach Frontenac and the settle- 
ments down the St. Lawrence. Some of these expeditions 
we have traced ; but when one studies the history of Detroit 
and Mackinac and the various establishments on Lake 
Michigan, and notes the frequent communication they kept 
up with Montreal, he can but conclude that, notwithstand- 
ing the known use of the Ottawa route, there must have been 


many a hardy traveler on the Niagara of whose presence 
there is no more record in history than there is trace of his 
keel in the waters he traversed. Joncaire himself, known 
and welcomed throughout the country of the Senecas, was 
probably on the river many a time since his meeting with 
d'Aigremont, on the site of Fort Denonville; but not until 
1720 do we find official record to that effect. 


Early in May, 1720, Joncaire appeared at Fort Fron- 
tenac. The previous year, at the beginning of harvest, he 
had laden his canoe with trinkets, "small merchandizes," 
powder, lead, not forgetting the useful belts of wampum and 
the equally useful brandy, and had crossed over to the Long 
House of the Iroquois. Here, in the heart of our New York 
State, he had wintered, part of the time at the great Seneca 
village and part of the time at the little village. 17 

It was by the instructions of Vaudreuil and Begon that 
he made this sojourn, the design being that he should win 
for the French such favor that they might carry out undis- 
turbed the orders which the Court had promulgated in 
1718, namely, the building of magazines and stockaded 
houses at Niagara and other Lake Ontario points. 

The winter had been well spent. He brought back with 
him to Frontenac not merely several bundles of peltries, 
but good tidings which a council was quickly summoned to 
hear. The Senecas were most favorably disposed towards 
their father Onontio, and to the uncle Sononchiez, by which 
name they had come affectionately to designate Joncaire. 

17. In 1720 "the great Seneca village" was apparently at the White 
Springs, one and one half miles southwest of Geneva. It later removed to a 
location some two miles northwest of Geneva, where it was long famous as 
the Ga-nun-da-sa-ga of the Senecas, otherwise Kanadesaga. "The Seneca castle 
called Onahe," mentioned further on in our narrative, was at this period 
about three miles southeast from the present village of Canandaigua. These 
locations are in accordance with conclusions reached by the late George S. 
Conover of Geneva, than whom probably no one has made a more thorough 
study of the subject. 


Their father and their uncle, their message ran, were mas- 
ters of their land. "The Indians consented not only to the 
building of the House of Niagara but also engaged them- 
selves to maintain it. And if the English should under- 
take to demolish it they must first take up the hatchet 
against the Cabanes of the two villages of the Sennekas." 18 
Such, at any rate, was the message as delivered to the 
delighted council. 

No time was lost. In "10 or 12 days" a canoe was 
packed with goods : "Some pieces of Blew Cloth three 
dozen or thereabouts of white Blankets for the use of the 
Indians half a Barrell of Brandy &c" ; and with eight sol- 
diers and young De la Corne son of Capt. De la Corne, 
Mayor of Montreal the expedition set out gaily for our 
river. The season was propitious, the voyage short and suc- 
cessful. They entered the mouth of the Niagara and 
pressed on up the river to the head of navigation. Here, at 
the beginning of the portage on the east side of the gorge, 
where Lewiston now stands, "the Sieur de Joncaire & le 
Corne caused to be built in haste a kind of Cabbin of Bark 
where they displayed the Kings Colors & honored it with 
the name of the Magazin Royal." 

Joncaire did not linger long, but went very soon to confirm 
his peace with the Senecas, leaving De la Corne in com- 
mand. From the Senecas' village he hastened back to Fron- 
tenac. There he took into his canoe as compagnon du voy- 
age John Durant, the chaplain of the fort, from whose 
memorial are drawn in part the data for this portion of our 
narrative. They voyaged together to Quebec, arriving Sep- 
tember 3d, and Joncaire was granted early audience with 
Vaudreuil and the Intendant, to whom he told what he had 
done. Vaudreuil was pleased, and the next day bestowed 
upon him the title of Commandant at Niagara, and bade 
him hasten back to that precarious post. There was joined 
to this new dignity an order for the inspection of the maga- 
zine "established in the Lake of Ontario. This Magazine 
is situate on the west of the Lake for the Trade with the 

1 8. Durant's Memorial, N. Y. Col. Docs., V, 588. 


Missasague otherwise called the Round Heads distant 
about thirty leagues from that of Niagara. The House at 
the bottom of the Lake 19 was built by the Sieur de Anville 
a little after that of Niagara." 20 The Sieur Douville had 
built another house, for trade with the Ottawas, at the foot 
of the Bay of Quinte. "They leave to winter in all their 
new forts," says Chaplain Durant, "but one Store Keeper 
and two Soldiers." Here indeed, was service for the King, 
a living immurement in the wilderness; yet the careers of 
men like Joncaire show how alluring this forest life, in spite 
of all its hardships and hazard, proved to many a soldier of 
New France. 

19. I. E., foot, west end. The allusion is probably to the trading-house 
at Toronto, with which Douville was more or less connected for some years. 
I find no statement in the documents showing that there was a trading-post at 
present Burlington Bay. 

20. The builder of the trading-post at the head of Lake Ontario, the 
builder of the trading-post on the Bay of Quinte, and the officer who spent the 
winter of 1720-21 on the Niagara, are apparently the same man, variously 
designated in the printed documents as "the Sieur de Anville," "the Sieur 
D'Agneaux," and "the Sieur D'Ouville." The name is also to be found written 
"d'Auville" and "d'Agneaux." Some of these variants are doubtless due to 
illigible manuscript, or inaccurate copying. He appears to have been the same 
officer who, at a conference with the Iroquois at Quebec, Nov. 2, 1748, signed 
his name "Dagneaux Douville." He was a lieutenant in the detachment of 
marine troops serving in Canada. In 1750 he is spoken of as "Sieur Dou- 
ville," commandant of Sault St. Louis; and in 1756, when he shared in another 
conference with Indians at Montreal, as "Lieut. Douville." 

I find it impossible, from the allusions in the records, to be definite regard- 
ing French officers in the Canadian service, who are designated as "Douville." 
Philippe Dagneau Douville, Sieur de la Saussaye, born 1700, was commandant 
at Toronto in 1759. His brother, spoken of also as Sieur de la Saussaye, was 
at Niagara, en route for Detroit, in 1739. The latter appears to have been 
the Alexandre Dagneau Douville who served among the Miamis, 1747-48; who 
was sent out from Fort Duquesne in 1756, on a foraging expedition, and was 
killed the next year in an attack on a fort in Virginia. A "Douville" was 
second ensign under Capt. Duplissy in 1729; was with Villiers at Green Bay 
in 1730, in which year he married Marie Coulon de Villiers. "Douville" was 
also interpreter at Fort Frontenac in 1743. If, as seems probable, it was 
Philippe who was at the conference in Quebec in 1748 Alexandre being among 
the Miamis in that year then it was probably Philippe whose connection with 
the trade on Lake Ontario is noted in the text. The confusion is increased 
by the record that in 1728 "Rouville la Saussaye" was the lessee of the trading- 
post at Toronto; but whether there is any relation between Rouville la Saussaye, 
the trader, and Douville de la Saussaye, the soldier, I leave for future deter- 
mination, or those who may have more exact information in the matter. 


Joncaire set out from Montreal, about the middle of 
October, 1720, to winter at Niagara. His two canoes were 
laden deep with goods from the King's storehouse. His 
escort numbered twelve soldiers, but at Frontenac six were 
left behind. There were evidently delays, at Frontenac or 
beyond, for as he skirted the south shore of Ontario his 
journey was stopped by ice thirty-five leagues from the 
Niagara. He put in at the Genesee and wintered there. 

Into what extremity this failure of expected relief plunged 
the occupants of the bark cabin at the mouth of the Niagara 
gorge, we are not told. De la Corne does not appear to have 
wintered there, for Durant records that "the Sieur D'Ouville 
had stayed there alone with a soldier, waiting the Sieur de 
Joncaire." Probably the friendship of the Senecas preserved 
them, but Joncaire's failure to arrive in the fall with goods 
to trade kept the storehouse empty till spring, to the no small 
embarrassment of the French and disappointment of the 

There exist of this episode, as of many others that form 
our history, two official accounts, one French, the other 
English. In the abstract of Messrs, de Vaudreuil and 
Begon's report on Niagara for 1720, it is set forth that 
"the English had proposed to an Iroquois chief, settled at 
Niagara, to send horses thither from Orange, which is 
130 leagues distant from it, for the purpose of transmit- 
ting goods, and to make a permanent settlement there, and 
offered to share with him whatever profits might accrue 
from the speculation. The English would, by such means, 
have been able to secure the greatest part of the peltries 
coming down the lakes from the upper countries; give 
employment not only to the Indians who go up there and 
return thence, but also to the French." The reader will note 
the delightful impudence of this last proposition. The 
report continues : "They [the French] have a store there 
well supplied with goods for the trade ; and have, by means 
of the Indians, carried on there, up to the present time and 
since several years ago, a considerable trade in furs in barter 


for merchandise and whisky. 21 This establishment would 
have enabled them to purchase the greater part of the pel- 
tries both of the French and Indians belonging to the upper 
country." It is clear that the English were about to attempt 
an establishment on the Niagara, had not the French fore- 
stalled them. 

It is not easy to reconcile the various dates, or lack of 
dates, in the English and French records of this establish- 
ment. It was on Oct. 26, 1719, that Vaudreuil sent Joncaire 
to carry to the Five Nations a favorable word from the 
King, and the presents above mentioned. He was charged 
to tell the Senecas that if the English came to Niagara they 
the Senecas should fall on them and seize their goods. It 
was agreed with Begon that De la Corne the younger and 
an engage should spend the winter of ifiQ-^o on the Niag- 
ara, and that they were to open trade the following spring, 
on the Royal account. Their presence, it was argued, would 
keep the English away, and help the trade at Frontenac. 

An Indian reported at Albany, in July, 1719, that the 
French were building at Niagara. He had been at the 
Seneca Castle called Onahe, within a day's journey of 
Niagara, and there met some Ottawas who had asked the 
French at Niagara, how they came to make a fort there 
without asking leave of the Five Nations ; and the French 
had replied, "they had Built it of their Own Accord, without 
asking any Bodys Leave and Designed to keep Horses and 
Carts there for Transportation of Goods," etc. 22 

Either the date of the above is too early by a year, or it 
refers to a structure built some time in 1719, which was 
succeeded by the larger Magazin Royal, which, according to 
explicit accounts, both French and English, was built in the 
latter part of May, 1720. In the report sent by Vaudreuil 
and Begon to the Minister, under date of Oct. 26, 1720, 
it is stated that "on the representation made by the Sieur 
de Joncaire, lieutenant of the troops, as to the importance 

21. "Eau de vie de grain." 

22. N. Y. Col. MSS. in State Library, Albany, Vol. LXL, fol. 157. 


of this post and of the quantity of furs which could be traded 
for there, they are making there a permanent establishment 
("un etablissement sedentaire" ) . We have charged him to 
have built there by the savages a picketed house ("une 
maison de pieux") to which [construction] he pledged them 
last spring." The same report recites the visit to the Senecas 
of Messrs. Schuyler and Livingston, their names appearing 
grotesquely distorted, as is usually the case with English 
or Dutch names in the old French documents as "le Sr. 
Jean Schult, commandant, et le Sr. L. Euiston, maire & 
Orange"! The bark house was obviously surrounded by 
palisades a strong, high fence of sharpened stakes. If the 
text of the French report may be accepted, the Indians 
themselves bore a willing hand in its construction. 

Durant's memorial makes no mention of a visit at Maga- 
zin Royal in behalf of the English, but there was one. The 
work on the bark house under the Niagara escarpment was 
no sooner begun than word of it was carried eastward 
through the lodges and villages of the Six Nations. In 
April of 1720, Myndert Schuyler and Robert Livingston, 
Jr., had set out from Albany for the Seneca Castle, to hold 
one of the conferences which the Commissioners of Indian 
Affairs so frequently ordered at this period. Here, May 
1 6th, they took the Indians to task because the French "are 
now buissey at Onjagerae, which ought not to be Consented 
to or admitted." The English emissaries went on to remind 
their Seneca brethren of the promises that had been made 
"about twenty-two years agoe to secure their Lands and 
hunting Places westward of them ... to the Crown of 
great Brittain to be held for you and Your Posterity." The 
French, they continued, "are now buissy at onjagera which 
in a Manner is the only gate you have to go through towards 
your hunteing places and the only way the farr Indians con- 
veniently came through where Jean Coeurs [Joncaire] with 
some men are now at work on building a block house and 
no Doubt of a Garrison by the next Year whereby you will 
be so Infenced that no Room will be Left for you to hunt 
in with out Liberty wee know that in warr time they could 


never overcome you, but these proceedings in building so near 
may be their Invented Intrigues to hush you to sleep whilst 
they take possession of the Heart of Your Country this is 
Plainly seen by us therefore desire you to Consider it rightly 
and sent [send] out to spy what they are doing at onjagera 
and prohibite Jean Coeur building there, for where they 
make Settlements they Endeavour to hold it so that if he 
takes no notice thereof, after given in a Civill way, further 
Complaints may be made to your brother Corlaer, who will 
Endeavour to make you Easy therein." 

This ingenuous appeal having been emphasized, accord- 
ing to custom, by giving a belt of wampum, the sachems 
retired to think it over. Six days later May 22d the 
sachems of the Senecas, Cayugas and Oneidas assembled, 
and in behalf of their own peoples and of the Mohawks and 
Onondagas, spoke to the English delegates at length and 
with the customary Indian grandiloquence. Regarding the 
French intrusion at Niagara they said, in part: 

"You have told us that you were Informed the French 
were building a house at Onjagera which As you perceive 
will prove prejudiciall to us & You. Its true they are Either 
yett building or it is finished by this time wee do owne that 
some Years agoe the Five Nations gave Trongsagroende 
lerondoquet & onjagera and all other hunting Places west- 
ward to y e Crowne to be held for us and our posterity 
Least other might Incroach on us then we also partition the 
hunting Places between us and the french Indians but since 
then they are gone farr within the Limits and the french 
got more by setling Trongsagroende and we must Joyne 
our Opinion with yours that if wee suffer the french to settle 
at onjagera, being the only way to ward hunting, wee will 
be altogether shut up and Debarred, of means for our lively 
hood then in deed our Posterity would have Reason to 
Reflect on us there fore to beginn in time wee will appoint 
some of our men to go thither to onjagera and Desire you 
to send one along so that in the name of the five Nations 
Jean Coeur may be acquainted with the Resolve of this 
Meeting and for biden to proceed any further building, but 
ordered to take down what's Erected." 


Having thus confirmed the English in their assertions, 
and pledged their own friendship, the sachems through 
their spokesman gave the belt of wampum and passed on to 
other matters. At the end of the conference three chiefs 
were appointed to go to Niagara to expostulate with the 
French; and Messrs. Schuyler and Livingston deputed to 
go with them their Dutch interpreter, Lawrence Claessen. 

This man, whose name in the old records is variously 
spelled Claessen, Clawsen, Clausen, Claese, Clase or Clace, 
acquires some importance in our record from the fact that he 
is the first representative of English interests known to 
have visited the Niagara in other than a clandestine way. 
With the exception of Roosboom and McGregorie and per- 
haps one or two others of their class, he is the first white 
man, not of France or in the French interest, known to have 
reached the region. Moreover he is a typical example of a 
class of men who at this period were indispensable alike to 
the English and French. He was an Indian interpreter, a 
go-between, the medium of communication between the 
English and the Indians. Though not a soldier, he was for 
his people in other ways the counterpart of Joncaire among 
the French; and although his experiences appear to have 
been less hazardous and romantic than were that adven- 
turer's, yet his life, for a score of years before we find him 
at Niagara, had been successfully devoted to a calling which 
demanded exceptional knowledge and tact, and which 
brought no lack of arduous experiences. 

As early as 1700 he was serving the English as interpreter 
in their councils and treaties with the Five Nations. He 
was apparently even then no novice at the trade, for the next 
year the Mohawks gave him about three acres on small 
islands in the Mohawk, in proof of their gratitude because 
of his fairness as an interpreter. He was a witness, July 19, 
1701, to the deed by which the Five Nations conveyed their 
beaver-hunting grounds to King William. It is a strange 
document, containing among the attached signatures the 
pictographic devices of sachems of each of the five nations ; 
and quit-claiming to the English Crown all the country of 


the Iroquois south of Lakes Ontario and Huron, on both 
sides of Lake Erie and as far west as Lake Michigan, 
"including likewise," specifies the deed, "the great falls 
oakinagaro" [Niagara]. This vast area, 400 miles wide by 
800 miles long, an empire in itself and now the seat of 
millions of people, the home of commerce and of culture, 
but then the wilderness which the Iroquois claimed as his 
hunting-ground, and because of its resources of fur the 
bone of contention between Europe's 1 greatest powers, was 
absolutely given, with every rivet and clamp of legal verbi- 
age which the language of the law, redundantly profuse then 
as now, could command "freely and voluntarily surrend- 
ered delivered up and forever quit-claimed . . . unto 
our great Lord and Master the King of England called by 
us Corachkoo and by the Christians William the third and 
to his heires and successors Kings and Queens of England 
for ever." And the sole compensation for this transfer was 
to be liberty on the part of the Five Nations to hunt as they 
pleased in this* domain, and to be protected by the English 
in the exercise of that right. 

From this date on for many years Claessen continued to 
act in a confidential capacity and as interpreter. The colo- 
nial records afford many glimpses of him. In 1710 he was 
sent to the Senecas' country, "to y e five Nations to watch y e 
motions of y e French & to perswade those Indians to give a 
free passage to y e farr Indians through their Countrey to 
come here to Albany to trade." 

On this mission, at Onondaga, July I7th, he encountered 
Longueuil and Joncaire. He was among the Indians at 
Onondaga again in the spring of 1711. Two years later we 
find him, with Heinrich Hanson and Capt. Johannes 
Bleecker, holding an important conference at the same great 

Whenever the Indians went to Albany to confer and 
that was often, at this period Claessen was summoned to 
interpret. On such occasions, the communications from 
red men to Governor, or vice versa, were made through 
successive interpretations. Thus it was customary, on these 


occasions, for the sachem to make his speech, paragraphed, 
so to say, by the gift of wampum belts. This speech Claes- 
sen, who, perhaps alone of all the white men present, under- 
stood the Five Nations dialects, repeated, more or less accu- 
rately, in Dutch. Usually it was Robert Livingston, secre- 
tary for the Indian Commissioners, who knew both Dutch 
and English, but not Indian, who translated what Claessen 
had said, for the benefit of Gov. Burnet, who understood 
only English. 

Sometimes there was still further interposition of lingual 
media. Such was the case at a conference at Albany in 
1722 between Gov. Spotswood of Virginia and the Indians. 
On this occasion there was speech-making by the Delawares. 
Here Claessen's knowledge failed him, so another inter- 
preter, James Latort, was called in, to convert Delaware into 
Mohawk or Dutch. 

More tedious yet was the work of the interpreters at a 
conference held at Albany in 1723 between the commis- 
sioners of Indian affairs and representatives of western 
tribes the "farr Indians" of the quaint old records. Claes- 
sen could not understand them, but a Seneca who had been a 
prisoner among them could, and interpreted to Claessen, 
who in turn interpreted to the commissioners; thus after 
three transformations the message reached a record in 
English. The wonder is not that there were so many mis- 
understandings, but if one may judge from the dispatch 
of business that there were so few. 

There were other interpreters employed by the English 
at this period; among them Capt. Johannes Bleecker and 
Jan Baptist van Eps, a man who was sent on important mis- 
sions among the Senecas, and may not unlikely have found 
his way to the Niagara; his name, in some of the reports 
of Indian speeches, appears rather startlinglv as John the 
Baptist. There was even a Dutch woman, Hilletje van 
Olinda, employed as "interpretress" at Albany in 1702. But 
none other in his time seems to have borne so important a 
part as Lawrence Claessen. In 1726 he was one of the wit- 
nesses to a trust deed by which the Onondagas, Cayugas and 


Senecas confirmed to Governor Burnet, as representative of 
King George, the quit-claim deed which the Five Nations 
had executed in 1701. The terms of the latter instrument 
are not so sweeping as in the former case. The country 
deeded is from the Salmon River, in Oswego County, New 
York, to Cleveland, Ohio, a strip sixty miles wide back into 
the country from the water front, and carefully specifying 
that it includes "all along the said lake [Erie] and all along 
the narrow passage from the said lake to the Falls of 
Oniagara Called Cahaquaraghe and all along the River of 
Oniagara and all along the Lake Cadarackquis," etc. 23 Small 
wonder, in view of these sessions in good faith, that the 
English vigorously contested all French establishment on 
the Niagara. 

Two years after the signing of this deed, Claessen was 
invited to Oswego, to mark out a land grant for the King. 
"We know none so proper," said the sachems to Gover- 
nor Montgomery, "as Lawrense Clausen the Interpreter, 
who is one of us And understands our Language." "I con- 
sent," replied His Excellency, "that Lawrence Clausen the 
Interpreter go up with you as you desire to mark out the 
Land you are to give his Majesty at Oswego, And as he 
[the King] is your kind father I expect you will give him a 
Large tract." This was on Oct. i, 1728. As late as Nov. 
23, 1730, we find him just returning to Albany from Onon- 
daga and reporting to the Indian Commissioners the latest 
news regarding Joncaire, which will be noted presently as 
we trace the career of that worthy. 

In all the thirty years during which we have sight of 
Lawrence Claessen, no service on which he was employed is 
recorded with greater detail than that which brought him 
to the Frenchmen's "Magazin Royal" on the banks of the 
Niagara in the spring of 1720. In his journal of that visit 
he has left a pretty vivid account of the way in which his 
mission sped. 

After a week of travel from the Seneca town Claessen and 
the three Seneca chiefs, on the last day of May, arrived at 

23. From the original roll in the office of the Secretary of State, Albany. 


the "Magazin Royal." They found it a good-sized house, 
"Forty Foot long and thirty wide," but it was not ample 
enough to afford them a hospitable reception. It was occu- 
pied, according to the English account, by a French mer- 
chant and two other Frenchmen one of them Douville. 
Joncaire does not appear to have been there when Claessen 
arrived. The French account says that the Englishman 
(Claessen) told La Come, "whom M. Begon appointed 
to trade at that place, to withdraw, and that they were going 
to pull down that house. La Corne answered them that he 
should not permit them to do so without an order from 
Sieur de Joncaire, who on being advised thereof by an 
Indian, went to the Senecas to prevent them consenting to 
that demolition." 

The argument between Claessen and La Corne was a 
heated one. Claessen told the latter that he had been sent, in 
company with the sachems, "to tell you that the Five 
Nations have heard that you are building a house at Octja- 
gara [Niagara], and the said sachims having considered 
how prejudicial that a French Settlement on their Land must 
consequently prove to them and their Posterity (if not 
timely prevented) wherefore they have sent me and them 
to acquaint you with their resolution that it is much against 
their inclination that any buildings should be made here and 
that they desire you to desist further building and to leave 
and demolish what you have made." 

The French merchant was at no loss for defense. "We 
had leave," he replied, "from the young fighting men of the 
Senecas to build a house at Niagara. My master is the 
Governor of Canada. He has posted me here to trade. This 
house will not be torn down until he orders it." 

The three sachems with Claessen scouted the idea that 
the young fighting men of their nation had given or could 
give permission for the French to establish themselves on 
the bank of the Niagara. "We have never heard," they 
said, "that any of our young men had given such leave for 
making any building at Octjagara." 


Claessen did not tarry long. Returning by way of Iron- 
dequoit, he there encountered new evidence of French enter- 
prise in a blacksmith whom the Governor of Canada had 
sent among the Senecas to work for them "gratis, he having 
compassion on them as a father," and in three French canoes 
loaded with goods, bound up for Niagara. By June 7th he 
was back at Seneca Castle, where he called together the chiefs 
and young warriors for a council. When they met, Joncaire 
appeared with them. Claessen told the assembly what had 
been said at Niagara; whereupon the Indians, old sachems 
and young warriors alike, joined in a disclaimer. The 
French, they said, had built the house at Niagara without 
so much as asking their leave, and they desired "that their 
brother Corlaer may do his endeavour to have y e said House 
demolisht that they may preserve their Lands and Hunting." 
They suggested that the English at Albany write to the 
Governor of Canada and insist that the house be destroyed. 

Here Joncaire broke in. He had listened to the Senecas' 
disclaimer, but now he assumed a taunting tone. Inter- 
rupting Claessen he exclaimed: "You seek to have the 
house at Niagara torn down only because you are afraid 
that you you traders at Albany will not get any trade 
from this Seneca nation and from the Indians of the far 
West. When we keep our house and people at Niagara we 
can stop the Senecas and the Western Indians too from 
trading with you. That is the trouble with you. You are 
not afraid that we keep the land from the Senecas." 

"The French," disputed Claessen, "have made this set- 
tlement at Niagara to encroach on the Five Nations, to 
hinder them in their hunting, and to debar them of the ad- 
vantage they should reap by permitting a free passage of 
the Western Indians through the Seneca castles. What is 
more, you impose on these people in your trade. You sell 
them goods at exorbitant rates. For a blanket of strouds 
you demand eight beavers, for a white blanket six, and other 
goods in proportion; whereas they may have them at Al- 
bany for half those prices." And the assembled Indians 
gravely affirmed that it was so. 


Lawrence Claessen went back to Albany, leaving Jon- 
caire for the time victorious. He prevailed on the vaccilat- 
ing Senecas not only to spare but to protect the house by 
the Niagara rapids, arguing that they themselves would 
profit from it, and emphasizing the argument, we may be 
sure, by a discreet bestowal of gifts. 

For the Senecas, this occurrence was but another step 
towards an inevitable end. For the French, it was a great 
achievement. The adroit Joncaire had crowned the efforts 
of more than forty years ; for ever since La Salle had built 
his first house on the river the French had longed for its 
permanent possession. The achievement won for Joncaire 
new expressions of regard. In the report of the Governor 
and Intendant for 1720 one may read: "No one is better 
qualified than he [Joncaire] to begin this establishment 
[Niagara,] which will render the trade of Fort Frontenac 
much more considerable and valuable than it has ever been. 
He is a very excellent officer ; the interpreter of the Five 
Iroquois Nations, and has served thirty-five years in the 
country. As all the Governors-General have successfully 
employed him, they have led him to hope that the Council 
would be pleased to regard the services he will have it in 
his power to render at this conjuncture." 

Local tradition fixes the site of Magazin Royal on the present Bridge 
Street at Lewiston, a few rods east of the tracks of the International Railway 
Company, and within a stone's throw of the bank of the Niagara. Here, at 
the south side of the road, just at the edge of the steep slope that stretches 
to the upper heights, one may yet trace the outlines of what appears to have 
been a well, and of the foundation of a building; scarcely however of Joncaire's 
cabin, but very plausibly of a house which later occupied the site, regarding 
which the Rev. Joshua Cooke, for many years a resident of Lewiston, writes to 
the present chronicler: "I have a particular interest in the spot, for in 1802, 
eighty-one years after Joncaire built, my grandfather built his pioneer home 
on the spot the first white man's home on the Niagara, after Joncaire." The 
old ferry road followed the general direction of the present Bridge Street, but 
ran a little to the north of it, in a ravine of which a portion still remains, at 
its junction with the river. Within recent years the building of the electric 
road along the river bank, the reconstruction of the suspension bridge at this 
point, and the cutting and grading incident to this work, have greatly changed 
things hereabouts. The present owner of the site is Mr. J. Boardman Scovell 
of Lewiston, who, in connection with the Niagara Frontier Landmarks Asso- 
ciation, proposes to place on the site a monument which shall commemorate 
Joncaire's famous Magazin Royal. 



The British plans for getting a foothold on Lake Erie 
and the Niagara at this time are revealed in various docu- 
ments. A "Representation of the Lords Commissioners 
for Trade and Plantations to the King upon the State of 
His Majesties Colonies and Plantations on the Continent of 
North America," dated Sept. 8, 1-721, sets forth at length 
that it would be of great advantage to build a fort in the 
country of the Seneca Indians, near the Lake Ontario, 
"which, perhaps, might be done with their consent by the 
means of presents, and it should the rather be attempted 
without loss of time, to prevent the french from succeeding 
in the same design, which they are now actually endeavour- 
ing at." We have already alluded to other forms in which 
this design was shown. It reappears in various ways, in 
numerous documents and publications of the time. 

There ensued between the Marquis de Vaudreuil in be- 
half of Canada, and Governor Burnet, an exceedingly 
spirited correspondence; one of those epistolary dialogues, 
or rather duels, which by their exhibitions of human nature 
do so enliven the record of the long strife for supremacy in 
America. Joncaire had left Montreal in September, 1720, 
for the house by the Niagara rapids. He undoubtedly car- 
ried with him a generous stock of articles of trade, powder, 
lead and brandy. He was to stay on the Niagara and among 
the Senecas until the following June. Governor Burnet, 
down in New York, was quickly apprised of it, and made 
known his mind to Vaudreuil. He began with compliments 
worthy of a French courtier. He had come to his post in 
September last, he wrote, with an inclination to salute his 
neighbor to the North by a cordial notification of his ar- 
rival. "I heard such a high eulogium of your family and 
of your own excellent qualities that I flattered myself with a 
most agreeable neighborhood, and was impatient to open a 
correspondence in which all the profit would be on my side. 
But I had not passed two weeks in the province when our 
own Indians of the Five Nations came to advise me, that the 


French we're building a post in their country at Niagara; 
that Sieur de Joncaire was strongly urging them to abandon 
the English interest altogether and to join him, promising 
them that the Governor of Canada would furnish better land 
near Chambly, to those who would remove thither; and 
would uphold the rest against the new Governor of New 
York, who was coming to exterminate them ; . . . that 
an effort was making to persuade them to close the passage 
through their country, to the English, in case the latter 
should disturb the post at Niagara, and that M. de Longueuil 
had gone thither for that purpose, and to complete the se- 
duction of the Indians from their ancient dependence on 
Great Britain." He explains why he has not waited for 
instructions from the Court before writing in the matter, 
and continues : "You will perceive, by the Treaty of Utrecht, 
that all the Indians are to be at liberty to go to trade with 
one party and the other; and if advantage be taken of the 
post at Niagara to shut up the road to Albany to the Far 
Indians, it is a violation of the Treaty which ought justly 
to alarm us, especially as that post is on territory belonging 
to our Indians, where we were better entitled to build than 
the French, should we deem it worth the trouble." He 
charges Vaudreuil with unseemly haste in seizing "disputed 
posts" ; renews his expressions of regret, and adroitly adds 
that he believes that "most of these disorders are due to this 
Joncaire, who has long since deserved hanging for the infa- 
mous murder of Hontour [Montour] which he committed. 
I leave you to judge whether a man of such a character de- 
serves to be employed in affairs so delicate." 

Canada's Governor replied, seriatim, to all the counts 
which Burnet undertook to score against him. Burnet, he 
said, was "the first English Governor-General who has 
questioned the right of the French, from time immemorial, 
to the post of Niagara, to which the English have, up to the 
present time, laid no claim." He declared that the French 
right there had continued since La Salle's first occupancy; 
that Fort Denonville was given up in 1688 because of sick- 
ness, "without this post, however, having been abandoned 


by the French" ; a claim which, to say the least, shows that 
Vaudreuil possessed qualifications that would have made 
him an adept in certain occupations of the law. He denied 
that there had been any dispute between the French and 
Indians as to the erection of Joncaire's trading-house, denied 
that there was any infraction of the treaty of peace, or that 
French occupancy of the Niagara interfered in the least 
with the Western Indians who could still carry their trade 
to the English if they saw fit. As to Joncaire, Governor 
Burnet was assured that he had been misinformed as to that 
useful man's character and qualities, "as he possesses none 
but what are very good and very meritorious, and has always 
since he has been in this country most faithfully served the 
King. It was by my orders that he killed the Frenchman 
named Montour, who would have been hanged had it been 
possible to take him alive and to bring him to this colony." 
The letter concludes with formal expressions of esteem, and 
the rather superfluous hope that the explanations would be 

He himself had the satisfaction, the next year, of having 
his conduct approved by the King. "His Majesty has ap- 
proved of the measures M. de Vaudreuil adopted to prevent 
the execution of the plan formed by the English of Orange 
to destroy the establishment at Niagara; and of the steps 
he took to dissuade the Iroquois from favoring them in that 
enterprise, and thereby to hinder the English undertaking 
anything against that post or against those of the Upper 
Country. His Majesty recommends him to endeavor to 
live on good terms with the English, observing, nevertheless, 
to maintain always His Majesty's interests." 


A spectator, on May 19, 1721, looking lakeward from 
the high bank where now old Fort Niagara keeps impotent 
guard, would have seen, swiftly skirting the shore from the 
eastward, a flotilla of King's boats and bark canoes, some 


crowded with soldiers, others laden deep with merchandise. 
Not in many a year had so imposing a company come to the 
Niagara. The lower reaches of the river are quickly accom- 
plished, and as the voyagers make landing below Magazin 
Royal, they receive hearty welcome from Chabert Joncaire, 
surrounded by delighted and greedy men, women and chil- 
dren from the Seneca and Mississauga lodges on the river 
bank. The first greeting, a deferential one, is for Charles 
le Moyne, Baron de Longueuil, lieutenant governor of Mon- 
treal. With him are the Marquis de Cavagnal, son of the 
Governor-General of Canada, Captain de Senneville, M. de 
Laubinois, commissary of ordnance, Ensign de la Chauvig- 
nerie the interpreter, De Noyan, commandant at Frontenac, 
and John Durant, state chaplain at that post. Each of the 
three King's boats brought six soldiers, and there were 
valets and cooks, so that Longueuil's party numbered 
twenty-eight or more. Besides these, two bark canoes had 
each borne eight men and a load of merchandise, one 
destined for the magazine at Niagara, the other for trade 
among the Miamis at the upper end of Lake Erie. Still 
another canoe brought, with De Noyan and the chaplain, 
four soldiers and an Indian. 

For Longueuil, it was an official visit. He and La 
Chauvignerie were under orders from the Court to join 
Joncaire at Niagara and go with him among the Senecas to 
distribute presents and thank them for the good will they 
had shown the French in permitting the construction of 
Magazin Royal. For the Marquis de la Cavagnal and 
Capt. de Senneville, it was largely a pleasure trip : they "had 
undertaken that voyage only out of curiosity of seeing the 
fall of the water at Niagara," says Chaplain Durant, thus 
indicating probably the first sight-seeing tourists, as distin- 
guished from all other travelers on the Niagara. 

It was not in the nature of things, however, that young 
men of the spirit and enterprise of Cavagnal and Longueuil 
should rest content with sentimental gazing. They had, in 
fact, the serious purpose, in compliance with an order laid 
upon them by the Governor himself, "to survey Niagara and 


take the exact height of the cataract." This apparently had 
never been done before. It is plain, from their wild guesses 
and exaggerations, that neither Hennepin nor La Hontan 
attempted it, nor do they report an attempt by any one con- 
nected with the expeditions of La Salle or Denonville. 

It is matter of regret that no official report of this first 
measurement of the falls is known. We learn of it from a 
verbal interview which took place in Albany five months 
later. On October loth of this year the Hon. Paul Dudley 
of that town gleaned some facts from one Borassaw so 
the English report spells his name. This man (a French 
Canadian, probably a boatman or possibly a trader), said 
he had been at Niagara seven times, and was there the last 
May, when the height of the falls was taken by Longue 
Isle, St. Ville and Laubineau in which perverse spelling of 
the Hon. Paul Dudley we may recognize Longueuil, Capt. 
de Senneville and Laubinois. They used, the Frenchman 
said, a large cod-line and a stone of half a hundred weight, 
and they found the perpendicular height "no more than 
twenty-six Fathom; his Words were vingt et six Bras." 
This height, 156 feet, indicates that the measurement was 
made at the eastern edge of the American Fall, which spot, 
known in our day as Prospect Point, was undoubtedly the 
natural and most frequented place of observation, from days 
immemorial. The height which de Cavagnal and his com- 
panions reported in 1721, is still the height at that point. 

Mons. "Borassaw" told still further of Niagara wonders. 
He thought that if the total descent of the river, including 
the lower rapids, were taken into account, the earlier reports 
of the height of the fall might not be far out of the way. 
He mentioned the terrible whirlpools, and the noise, which 
Mr. Dudley decided was not so terrible as Father Hennepin 
had reported, since one could converse easily close by; 
and dwelt especially upon "la brume" the mist or shower 
which the falls make : "So extraordinary, as to be seen at 
five Leagues distance, and rises as high as the common 
Clouds. In this Brume or Cloud, when the Sun shines, you 
have always a glorious Rainbow." The Canadian's graphic 


account of Niagara phenomena served a good purpose in 
toning down the earlier exaggerations; but, reported Mr. 
Dudley, "He confirms Father Hennepin's and Mr. Kellug's 
Account of the large Trouts of those Lakes, and solemnly 
affirmed there was one taken lately, that weighed eighty-six 
pounds." 24 

Two or three days 25 after the arrival of Longueuil and 
his party, there came two other canoes ; one laden with mer- 
chandise bound for Detroit ; in the other were four traders 
and the famous Jesuit, Father Charlevoix. 

It was "two o'clock in the afternoon" of May 22d that 
Charlevoix reached the mouth of the Niagara. He had 
passed the neglected waste, the site of Denonville's and 
La Salle's earlier establishments, not stopping until he 
reached Joncaire's cabin "to which," he wrote a few days 
later, "they have beforehand given the name of fort : for it 
is pretended that in time this will be changed into a great 
fortress." There were here now, all told, some fifty French- 
men, a most distinguished company to be found, this May 
evening of the year 1721, harbored together in a rough house 
under the Niagara escarpment at the edge of the rapids, 
Here these comrades in arms and adventure feasted to- 
gether on fresh fish which Seneca and Mississauga boys 
brought them from the river, with roast venison or other 
provision from the forest, well prepared by Longueuil's own 
cooks ; not forgetting the comfort of French liquors or other 
luxuries which the voyager of quality was sure to carry with 
him into the wilderness. They gave the priest a welcome at 
the board, and he, being no ascetic, was glad to join them. 
It is a pleasure to conjure up the jovial gathering a rare 

24. See "An Account of the Falls of the River Niagara, taken at Albany, 
Oct. 10, 1721, from Monsieur Borassaw, a French native of Canada. By the 
Hon. Paul Dudley, Esq., F. R. S.," in Philosophical Transactions, Royal Soc., 
London, 1722. Dudley's record of Borassaw is also given in Vol. Ill, "The 
Gallery of Nature and Art" (6 vols.), 2d ed., London, 1818. See also Vol. 
XIII of La Roche's "Memoires liter, de la Grande Bretagne," La Haye, 

25. Durant says May 2ist; Charlevoix says he arrived at Niagara on 
the afternoon of May 22d. "Journal Historique," Letter XIV. 


occasion in a history which usually presents to the student 
a dismal and distressed aspect, often deepening into tragedy. 

The French officers were extremely well satisfied with 
what they found on the Niagara. A council was held at 
which the Senecas made their usual facile promises and Jon- 
caire spoke "with all the good sense of a Frenchman, whereof 
he enjoys a large share, and with the sublimest eloquence of 
an Iroquoise." 

The officers were to set off on their mission the next day. 
That evening a Mississauga Indian invited them to a "fes- 
tival," as Charlevoix calls it ; and although by this time he 
was not without some acquaintance with Indian ways, the 
priest found it "singular enough." As this is the first "fes- 
tival" on the banks of the Niagara which has been reported 
for us, the reader may find pleasure in joining the party, 
with the Jesuit historian for mentor : 

"It was quite dark when it began, and on entering the 
cabin of this Indian, we found a fire lighted, near which 
sat a man beating on a kind of drum; another was con- 
stantly shaking his chichicoue, and singing at the same time. 
This lasted two hours and tired us very much as they were 
always repeating the same thing over again, or rather utter- 
ing half articulated sounds, and that without the least varia- 
tion. We entreated our host not to carry this prelude any 
further, who with a good deal of difficulty showed us this 
mark of complaisance. 

"Next, five or six women made their appearance, drawing 
up in a line, in very close order, their arms hanging down, 
and dancing and singing at the same time, that is to say, 
they moved some paces forwards, and then as many back- 
wards, without breaking the rank. When they had con- 
tinued this exercise about a quarter of an hour, the fire, 
which was all that gave light in the cabin, was put out, and 
then nothing was to be perceived but an Indian dancing 
with a lighted coal in his mouth. The concert of the drum 
and chichicoue still continued, the women repeating their 
dances and singing from time to time; the Indian danced 
all the while, but as he could only be distinguished by the 


light of the coal in his mouth he appeared like a goblin, and 
was horrible to see. This medley of dancing, and singing, 
and instruments, and that fire which never went out, had a 
very wild and whimsical appearance, and diverted us for 
half an hour ; after which we went out of the cabin, though 
the entertainment lasted till morning." The discreet father 
naively adds to his fair correspondent: "This, madam, is 
all I saw of the fire-dance, and I have not been able to learn 
what passed the remainder of the night." He speculates 
at length on how the chief performer could have held a 
live coal in his mouth ; the Indians, he is told, know a plant 
which renders the part that has been rubbed with it insen- 
sible to fire, "but whereof they would never communicate 
the discovery to the Europeans." With the known proper- 
ties of cocaine and some other drugs in mind, this explana- 
tion would seem in a degree plausible; against the theory 
is the fact that the pharmacopaea has pretty thoroughly 
tested all the plants which the Indian of these latitudes could 
have known. There was probably a good deal of charle- 
tanry about the exhibition which so puzzled the good priest. 
To Charlevoix, the environs of Magazin Royal were far 
from pleasing. Most of the modern visitors who resort to 
the vicinity in thousands every summer, find the prospect 
uncommonly attractive. Here the wild gorge of the Niagara 
ends, and between alluvial banks the beautiful river, as if 
wearied with its struggles above, continues at a slower pace 
toward the blue Ontario. At landings, on the Lewiston or 
Queenston sides, are steamers with flags a-flutter waiting 
for the throngs of tourists. Trolley-cars shuttle back and 
forth, their road-beds scarring and changing the old slopes. 
On the Canadian side, cedars and other wild growth still 
soften the outlines of the heights, crowned with a noble 
Corinthian shaft in memory of the heroic Brock. A bridge, 
the second that has swung across the river at the mouth of 
the gorge, and, on the American side, a steam railroad, have 
still further contributed to the obliteration of natural out- 
lines. But nothing short of a cataclysm can destroy the 
beauty of the place. The heights are green and pleasant, 


easily reached by winding roads, crowned with grain-fields 
and orchards. Below are the quiet, picturesque villages of 
Lewiston and Queenston, and all the low country is a 

Not so did it appear to Charlevoix, who protested that 
"nothing but zeal for the public good could possibly induce 
an officer to remain in such a country as this, than which 
a wilder and more frightful is not to be seen. On the one 
side you see just under your feet, and as it were at the bot- 
tom of an abyss, a great river, but which in this place is 
like a torrent by its rapidity, by the whirlpools formed by a 
thousand rocks, through which it with difficulty finds a pas- 
sage, and by the foam with which it is always covered. On 
the other, the view is confined by three mountains placed one 
over the other, and whereof the last hides itself in the 
clouds. This would have been a very proper scene for the 
poets to make the Titans attempt to scale the heavens. In 
a word, on whatever side you turn your eyes, you discover 
nothing which does not inspire a secret horror." This shows 
a favorite form of the exaggeration to which the priest was 
addicted; he has elsewhere described mere oak trees as 
reaching "to the clouds." 

After the departure of the officers, he made the long 
portage and continued his journey. Once up the heights, 
he acknowledged a change of sentiment. "Beyond those 
uncultivated and uninhabitable mountains, you enjoy the 
sight of a rich country, magnificent forests, beautiful and 
fruitful hills ; you breathe the purest air, under the mildest 
and most temperate climate imaginable." His passage up 
the Niagara, it will be remembered, was at the end of May. 
He visited the falls, of which he wrote on the spot a long 
description, sending it back to Montreal by some voyageurs 
whom he met at the entrance to Lake Erie ; whence, on May 
27th, he continued his long canoe voyage to the westward. 
The goods for trade and for the post at Detroit were labori- 
ously packed over the portage. Voyageurs and Indians, 
sweating and straining, bore inverted on their shoulders the 
long bark canoes, up the steep heights and along the forest 
path to quiet water above the cataract. 


Setting out in the other direction, our tourist officers, 
with De Noyan, Laubinois and Durant, departed on the 
22d, and on reaching the lake turned their prow westward, 
to make their way to Fort Frontenac along the north shore 
of the lake. 

Nearly a month later Chaplain Durant, making his way 
to Albany with a delegation of Indians, met Joncaire at the 
mouth of the Oswego River. "I asked him," the chaplain 
writes, "what he had done with these savages upon the sub- 
ject of the voyage he had undertaken to them. He answered 
me, 'I have beat the Bush and Mr. de Longueuil will take 
the birds. Our voyage will do him honor at the Court 
of France/ and explained himself no further." A little 
advanced on his way, above the Oswego falls, Durant met 
Longueuil and La Chauvignerie. "Have you succeeded," 
he asked, "in engaging the Five Nations to defend the Post 
of Niagara ?" They answered that the chiefs of the Senecas, 
Cayugas, Oneidas and Onondagas had given them "good 
words," promised to tell him further at Montreal, and hur- 
ried on towards Lake Ontario. 

The French officers were little inclined to make a confi- 
dant of the priest, and with good reason, for he was then, 
as he had been at Niagara, virtually a spy in the English 
interest. John Durant was a Recollect, a Frenchman who 
claimed to be of Huguenot family, which, perhaps, accounts 
for his resolve to change both his country and his religion. 
Apparently his Niagara visit suggested the way to him. 
He had been stationed at Fort Frontenac, and returned 
thither from Niagara; but on June I3th he deserted that 
post and his charge, and with an Indian escort set out 
for Albany, where he stated his case to Governor Burnet, 
and gave him a journal of what he had seen and heard 
at Niagara. It is from that journal that a portion of the 
foregoing narrative is drawn. 26 Burnet made Durant the 
bearer of his own report to the Lords of Trade in Lon- 
don, together with a letter commending the author for 
favor and suggesting reward for his services. In due time 

26. See Durant's Memorial, etc., N. Y. Col. Docs., V, 588-591. 


the thanks of the Lords of Trade were sent back to Gov- 
ernor Burnet, with the assurance that "we have done what 
we could for his [Durant's] service, tho' not with so much 
success as we cou'd wish" 27 ; and we hear no more o c Chap- 
lain Durant, the Huguenot Spy of the Niagara. 


William Burnet was appointed Governor of the Colonies 
of New York and New Jersey, April 19, 1720. He was no 
sooner established in his new office than he began a zealous 
campaign against the advances of the French. In his first 
communication to the Lords of Trade, Sept. 24, 1720, just 
one week after his arrival in New York, he stated that 
"there may be effectual measures taken for fortifying & 
securing the Frontier against the French, who are more 
industrious than ever in seducing our Indians to. their Inter- 
ests & have built trading Houses in their country." In 
November, reporting the result of the Legislative Assem- 
bly of 1720, he declared it his intention to build a new fort 
at Niagara and a small one at Onondaga. He complained 
that the French "tryed to seduce the Sinnekees" by sending 
priests among them, grotesquely declaring this to be a breach 
of the treaty which required the French "not to molest the 
Five Nations" ! "This," he added, "besides their continuing 
to fortify at Niagara shews how much they take advantage 
of the unsettled state of the limits between the Crowns." 28 

"When I get the King's presents to the Indians, which 
I hope will be dispatched," he suggestively wrote, "I pro- 
pose to go into the Indian country through the five nations 
and give them these presents at their own homes when I 
come among the Sinnekees I will propose to them my 
design to build a Fort at Niagara & leave a whole company 
of souldiers to guard it and be a defence to the Indians 
against the French and to make this succeed the better I 

27. Lords of Trade to Burnet, Whitehall, June 6, 1722. 

28. Burnet to the Lords of Trade, June 18, 1721. 


intend to give land to the officers and souldiers & to the 
Palatines and all others that will go there by this means in 
a year or two the country which is very fruitful will main- 
tain itself and be the finest Settlement in the Province 
because it is seated in the Pass where all the Indians in our 
dependance go over to hunt and trade with the Farr Indians 
it will likewise make it practicable to have another settle- 
ment above the Fall of Niagara where vessells may be built 
to trade into all the Great Lakes of North America with 
all the Indians bordering on them, with whom we may have 
an immense Trade never yet attempted by us and now 
carried on by the French with goods brought from this 

The project does credit to the Governor's zeal and enthu- 
siasm, but it came to naught, so far as Niagara was con- 
cerned. In a representation to the King the following year, 
the advantage is urged of building a fort "in the country of 
the Seneca Indians, near the Lake Ontario, which, perhaps, 
might be done with their consent by the means of presents, 
and it should the rather be attempted without the loss of 
time, to prevent the French from succeeding in the same 
design, which they are now actually endeavoring at" 29 ; 
and the King's attention was especially directed to Burnet's 
Niagara scheme, but no royal encouragement was given. 
The Governor himself, in his report to the Lords of Trade 
for 1721, reviews at length the protest he had made to the 
Canadian Governor because of the French establishment 
at Niagara, but says nothing more of his own proposi- 
tion for that river. He had sent instead a small company 
to carry on trade at Irondequoit Bay. The Palatines, whom 
he had considered as available Niagara colonists, had ob- 
jected to such an exile in a distant and probably hostile wil- 
derness, and had been given their now historic lands on the 

One phase of the establishment at Irondequoit must be 
noted in tracing the history of the Niagara. The company 
of seven young Dutchmen who spent the winter of 1721 -'22 
at Irondequoit, were under the command of Capt. Peter 

29. "State of the British Plantations in America," 1721. 


Schuyler, Jr. To him Governor Burnet gave explicit in- 
structions for the regulation of trade and the control of his 
party. In a postscript to his letter of instructions he wrote : 

"Whereas it is thought of great use to the British In- 
terest to have a Settlem 1 upon the nearest part of the lake 
Eree near the falls of lagara you are to Endeavour to pur- 
chase in his Majesty's name of the Sinnekes or other native 
propriators all such Lands above the falls of lagara fifty 
miles to the southward of the said falls which they can dis- 
pose of." 

If young Schuyler made any efforts to make this pur- 
chase, the record of it is not known. When he returned with 
his band to Albany in September, 1722, Joncaire still con- 
tinued commandant at Magazin Royal, and trade-master 
of the Niagara region. 

In June, 1722, the Lords of Trade, replying to Burnet's 
proposition of a year and a half before, hoped that the fort 
which he would build on the Niagara would effectually 
check the efforts of the French at that point, but advised 
him to "take the consent of the Indian Proprietors" before 
he built. A year later June 25, 1723 Burnet wrote that 
if he could get the Two-per-cent. Act confirmed, he should 
be "very ernest to build a Fort in the Indian Country 
among the Sinnekees," but subsequent events showed that 
he no longer thought Niagara the place for his establish- 
ment. The statement of the contemporary English his- 
torian, that a number of young men were at this time 
sent into Western New York "as far as the Pass between 
the Great Lakes at the Falls of lagara to learn the language 
of these Indians & to renew the Trade," 30 that is to build 
up a direct traffic with the Western Indians which had been 
neglected for the easier barter of English goods to the 
French apparently refers to the short-lived establishment 
at Irondequoit, already referred to. Evidence is lacking 
to show that the English or Dutch gained any foothold on 
the Niagara at this period. 

In 1724, with due consent of the "Indian Proprietors," 
Burnet made his famous establishment at the mouth of the 

30. Colden's "Account of the Trade of New York," 1723. 


Oswego River, which was the foundation of the present 
city of Oswego. At the time, however, probably no one 
was dreaming of future cities. It was but a new move in 
the century-long game for the fur trade. One might say, 
with some accuracy, that it was Joncaire's trading-house on 
the Niagara that provoked the English to make a like estab- 
lishment, though much better built, at Oswego ; and it was 
the English at Oswego that spurred the French to hasten 
the construction of the stone Fort Niagara. A broader 
statement of the situation, however, would show that these 
establishments by no means represented all the efforts which 
the rivals were putting forth at this period to secure the 
Indian trade. 

The English in particular were successful in other ways. 
One of the first legislative acts passed under Burnet had 
aimed to put a stop to the direct trade between the English 
and the French. It had long been the custom for Albany 
traders to carry English-made goods to Montreal, selling 
them to the French who in turn traded them to the Indians. 
The English could supply certain articles which were more 
to the savage taste than those sent over from France; and 
they could afford to sell them at a lower price. Having 
stopped the peddling to the French, Governor Burnet made 
strong efforts to draw the far Western Indians to Albany 
for trade direct with them. In these efforts he was fairly 
successful. Bands of strange savages from Mackinac and 
beyond, accompanied by their squaws and papooses, pre- 
sented themselves at Albany, where their kind had never 
been seen before. They had come down Lake Huron, past 
the French at Detroit, and through Lake Erie; and pad- 
dling down the swift reaches of the navigable Niagara had 
made the portage, reembarking below the heights and at 
the very doorway of the French trading-house ; with some 
interchange, no doubt, of jeers and imprecations, but none 
of furs for French goods ; and following the historic high- 
way for canoes, they skirted the Ontario shore to the Oswe- 
go, than passed up that river, through Oneida Lake and 
down the Mohawk, until they could lay their bundles of 
beaver skins before the English, on the strand at Albany. 


This was, indeed, a triumph of trade. They spoke a 
language which the traders there had never heard, but they 
brought many packs of furs; and with, perhaps, a double 
interpretation, the business sped to the entire satisfaction of 
the English. These people came in various bands; about 
twenty hunters, in the spring of 1722; and in the spring of 
1723 over eighty, besides their numerous train of women and 
children; with sundry other parties following. They trav- 
eled over 1,200 miles to get to Albany. 

Burnet was delighted with this proof that even with their 
Magazin Royal at the foot of the Niagara portage, the 
French did not by any means have a monopoly of the busi- 
ness. The English emissaries in the country of the Five 
Nations were as active as ever was Joncaire, and at this 
period appear to have been even more successful. Burnet 
attributed the increased trade to the stoppage of the English- 
French barter above mentioned and to "the Company whom 
I have kept in the Sinnekees Country whose business it has 
been to persuade all the Indians that pass by to come rather 
to trade at Albany than at Montreal, and as the Indians that 
come from the remote Lakes to go to Canada are commonly 
in want of Provisions when they come below the falls of 
Niagara, they are obliged to supply themselves in the Sin- 
nekees Country where our people are and then they may 
take their choice where they will go, which considering the 
experience they have now had of the cheapness of Goods in 
this Province, we need not fear will be universally in our 
favor." 31 

So well disposed were these Western Indian traders 
towards the English, that they entered into a "League of 
Friendship" at Albany, which both Governor Burnet and 
Surveyor-General Colden construed as a desire to join the 
Six Nations, "that they may be esteemed the seventh Nation 
under the English Protection" a matter for which the Eng- 
lish were presumably far more eager than was the ancient 
League of the Iroquois, now, alas, past the splendid meridian 
of its strength. Its remaining energies were to be dissipated 
in the strife of the usurping strangers. 

31. Burnet to Lords of Trade, June 25, 1723. 


Burnet's dealings with the Five Nations were conspicuous 
for fairness and sagacity. In order to thwart the French, 
and bring the Western fur trade to the New York Colony, 
he could afford to be generous, especially to the Senecas, 
whose aid was indispensable. In his first meeting with them, 
at Albany, in September, 1721, he so won their good will 
that they declared they would not let the French fortify 
Niagara. The French, they protested, had deceived them 
there some thirty years ago, pretending to get permission to 
build a storehouse, and then fortifying it without permis- 
sion; but, said the Indians, we pulled it down. They did 
not exactly promise to do so again, but said: "We are 
resolved as soon as any French come to the Five Nations to 
tell them to pull down that trading House at Onjarara, and 
not to come either to settle or Trade among us any more." 

The protestations of friendship at this council, on the part 
of the Five Nations still referred to as the Five Nations, 
though since the inclusion of the Tuscaroras in 1715, really 
become six were somewhat warmer than usual. The con- 
ference was shared in by the Governor "and diverse gentle- 
men from New York that attended his Excellency," by 
Captain Robert Walters, Cadwallader Colden and James 
Alexander of the Royal Council, by the twelve Commission- 
ers of Indian Affairs, headed by Colonel Peter Schuyler, by 
the Mayor and Aldermen of Albany, and, no doubt, by such 
unofficial spectators as could gain admission. The Mohawks, 
Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas were all repre- 
sented by painted, be-feathered and greedy sachems. Their 
chief spokesman was not content, before so august an assem- 
blage, with the more ordinary pledges of friendship. 

"We call you Brother," he said, holding out the belt of 
wampum, "and so we ought to do, and to love one another 
as well as those that have sucked on [one] breast, for we are 
Brethren indeed, and hope to live and dye so," and he prom- 
ised on behalf of the Five Nations "to keep the Covenant 
Chain inviolable as long as Sun & Moon endure." It is not 
impossible that the Indians had wind of the great present 
they were to receive "as noble a Present," Burnet wrote 


afterwards, "as ever was given them from His Majesty King 
George." At the close of the formal proceedings the Indians 
told the Governor that they heard he had lately been mar- 
ried. 32 "We are glad of it," they said, "and wish you much 
Joy And as a token of our Rejoycing We present a few 
Beavers to your Lady for Pin Money," adding with amus- 
ing frankness, "It is Customary for a Brother upon his Mar- 
ryage to invite his Brethren to be Merry and Dance." 

The Governor did not disappoint them. The gifts which 
he now spread before them would have filled a warehouse. 
The list, which has been preserved, 33 is not uninstructive. 
There were given to the Indians on this occasion five pieces 
of strouds [worth at that time 10 per piece in New York and 
upwards of $13 at Montreal], five of duffels, five of blankets, 
four of "half thicks," fifty fine shirts, 213 Ozibrigg 34 
shirts, fifty red coats, fifty pairs of stockings, six dozen 
scissors, fourteen dozen knives, four dozen jack-knives, five 
dozen square looking-glasses and thirty dozen of round hand- 
mirrors, twenty-eight parcels of gartering and twelve of 
binding, twenty pounds of beads, twenty brass kettles, fifty 
guns, 1,000 pounds of powder in bags, 200 pounds of bar 
lead, ten cases of ball, 1,500 gun-flints, twelve dozen jews- 
harps, six and one-half barrels of tobacco, and last, but very 
far from least, a hogshead of rum. There were besides 
private presents to the sachems, including guns, powder, 
shirts, laced coats and laced hats, and special portions of 
liquor. Even this was not enough. Governor Burnet "in 
the name of his Majesty, Ordered them some Barrls of Beer 
to be merry withall and dance, which they did according 
to their Custom and were extreamly well Satisfyed." 

32. He had married a daughter of Abraham Van Home, a prominent New 
York merchant. 

33. Minutes of Conference at Albany, Sept. 7, 1721, kept by Robt. 
Livingston, Sec'y for Indian Affairs. 

34. A coarse linen much used in the Indian trade. The name is often 
written "Oznabrigg," but the correct form is Oznaburg, after the city so 
named in Germany, whence these linens were originatiy imported. The name 
came to be applied to coarse linens made elsewhere. "Duffels" were coarse 
woolen cloths, the name probably derived from Duffel in the Netherlands. 


And back to their several villages the loaded retinue 
went ; up the Mohawk, to Onondaga ; the diminishing party 
continuing, now by lake and stream, now filing along the 
old trails, to the Seneca towns in the valley of the Genesee 
and to the westward. Red coats, hand-mirrors and new 
guns were hard arguments to be overcome by the pinched 
French at Magazin Royal. 

It was on the strength of the good will of the Senecas, 
won at this conference, that Burnet ventured to send his 
young men, under Captain Schuyler son of Peter Schuyler, 
President of the Council to attempt a settlement at Iron- 
dequoit on Lake Ontario. Burnet hoped that others would 
join him there; but caused it to be clearly understood that 
the place was indisputably in the Indians' possession. It 
was merely to serve as a depot of English goods, where 
Western traders, who would pass by the French establish- 
ment on the Niagara, were to be supplied on terms far more 
liberal than the French could afford. With the one possible 
exception of powder, the English could furnish everything 
used in the Indian trade more cheaply than the French, sup- 
plying, of course, rum instead of brandy, a substitution to 
which the red man made no demur, so long as the quantity 
was ample. 


We are now come to the point in our story where the 
testimony of the ancient manuscripts is quickened, vivified, 
by an existing landmark. The stone house popularly known 
as the "castle," the most venerable of the group of structures 
in the Government reserve of Fort Niagara, dates, in its 
oldest parts, from 1726. Vaudreuil conceived the project 
of it ; Longueuil the younger and Joncaire gained the uncer- 
tain consent of the Five Nations for its erection; and 
Gaspard Chaussegros de Lery, the King's chief engineer in 
Canada, determined its exact location and superintended its; 

When the Marquis de Vaudreuil learned, Dec. 8, 1724, 
of the operations of the English at Oswego, he realized at 


once that another move in the game must be made by the 
French if they would retain even a share of that portion of 
the fur trade which made the Great Lakes its highway to 
market. Joncaire's feeble establishment was in danger of 
eclipse, of being cut out, by the rum and other superior 
inducements which the English were so lavishly offering. 
It is evident that the Governor studied the situation thor- 
oughly that winter. By spring he had made up his mind. 
He wrote to the Minister, May 25th, that, should the Eng- 
lish undertake to make a permanent establishment at Os- 
wego, nothing remained but to fortify Niagara. He could 
say "fortify" to the Minister, though to the Iroquois dec- 
larations must continue to be made, that their devoted 
father Onontio sought only to build a trading-house a 
storehouse anything, so long as it was not called fort. He 
proposed first to build two barques on Lake Ontario, which 
should not only carry materials for the proposed construc- 
tion at Niagara, but could cruise the lake and intercept 
Indian parties on their way to trade with the English. The 
building at Niagara, the Minister was informed, "will not 
have the appearance of a fort, so that no offense will be 
given to the Iroquois, who have been unwilling to allow 
any there, but it will answer the purpose of a fort just as 

The Intendant, M. Begon, approved the project. Under 
date of June 10, 1725, he wrote to the Minister, that in view 
of the great importance of doing everything possible to pre- 
vent the English from driving the French from Niagara, 
"we have determined to build at Fort Frontenac two 
barques to serve in case of need against the English, to 
drive them from that establishment [Niagara] and also to 
serve for carrying materials with which to build a stone 
fort at Niagara, which we hold to be necessary to put that 
post in a state of defense against the English" as well as 
against the Iroquois. He added that these boats would be 
very useful in time of peace, sailing between La Galette, 
Frontenac and Niagara, and carrying provisions, munitions 
of war, merchandise for trade, and peltries, reducing the 


expense below that of canoe service. "They will serve also 
as far as Niagara for the transport of provisions, merchan- 
dise and peltries for all those belonging to the posts in the 
upper country, or who go up with trade permits. The 
freight which they will be able to carry will compensate the 
King for the cost of construction. 

"I sent, for this purpose, in February last, two carpenters 
and four sawyers, who arrived at Fort Frontenac, traveling 
on the ice, the 26th of the same month. I am informed that 
during the winter they cut the wood' needed and have barked 
and sawed a part of it. I have also sent nine other carpen- 
ters and two blacksmiths, who set out from Montreal on the 
1 5th of last month, to hurry on the work, that these boats 
may be ready to sail the coming autumn." 35 

A postscript to this letter adds: "Since writing, M. de 
Joncaire has come down and tells me that the Iroquois will 
not interfere with building the boats, and will not oppose 
the Niagara establishment, asking only that there should 
not be built there a stone fort." 

As the years passed, it was Joncaire who more and more 
represented the power of France on the Niagara. He it 
was to whom the Governor of Canada entrusted the deli- 
cate business of maintaining amicable relations with the 
Senecas; and on his reports and advice depended in con- 
siderable measure the attitude of the French towards their 
ever-active rivals. In November, 1724, Vaudreuil had writ- 
ten to the Minister that in order to retain the Five Nations 
in their "favorable dispositions," he thought he "could not 
do better than to send Sieur de Joncaire to winter at Ni- 
agara and among the Senecas. According to the news to 
be received from Sieur de Joncaire," added the Governor, 
"I shall determine whether to send Sieur de Longueuil to 
the Onontagues, among whom he has considerable influ- 

35. These barques were commanded by sailing-masters Gagnon and Goue- 
ville. Each had four sailors, with six soldiers to help. A memorandum states 
that the operations of the vessels in 1727 cost 5775 livres, 3 sols (sous), n 
deniers. A sailor received for a season's work 530 livres, the masters 803 
livres each. 


That Joncaire's news was favorable, is evident from the 
sequel; for Longueuil was sent to the Onondagas, from 
whom he gained a dubious consent that the French might 
build a fort at the mouth of the Niagara. In June, 1725, 
Joncaire went down from the Seneca Castle near present 
Geneva to Quebec, where he assured the Intendant, Begon, 
that the Iroquois were pledged not to interfere with the 
construction of the two barques then building at Fort Fron- 
tenac, "nor oppose the establishment at Niagara, only re- 
quiring that no stone fort should be erected there." Ac- 
cording to the French reports, this last stipulation was soon 
set aside, for in the dispatches of Vaudreuil and Begon to 
the Minister, dated May 7, 1726, telling of Longueuil's mis- 
sion to the JFive Nations, one reads as follows : 

"He repaired next to Onontague, an Iroquois village, 
and found the Deputies from the other four villages there 
waiting for him; he got them to consent to the construc- 
tion of two barques, and to the erection of a stone house at 
Niagara, the plan of which he designed." 

This mission of Longueuil proved an eventful one. He 
was charged to cross Lake Ontario to order the English to 
withdraw from Oswego. A curious meeting ensued. At 
the mouth of the river he found 100 Englishmen with sixty 
canoes. They stopped him, called for his pass, and showed 
him their instructions from the Governor of New York, not 
to let any Frenchman go by without a passport. Then the 
doughty Canadian, not relishing the idea of being under 
English surveillance, turned to the Iroquois chiefs who 
were present, and taunted them with being no longer masters 
of their own territory. His harangue had the desired effect. 
The Indians, galled by his words, broke out against the 
English with violent reproaches and threats. "You have 
been permitted to come here to trade," they said, "but we 
will not suffer anything more." They promised Longueuil 
that in the event of a French war with the English, they 
would) remain neutral ; and) the delighted emissary turned 
his back on the discomfited Englishmen, who dared not 
interfere, and accompanied by a large volunteer retinue of 
Indians, continued his journey to Onondaga. 


Here the deputies of the Five Nations gathered to meet 
them. He showed them the plan he had designed for a 
house at Niagara. The report as subsequently laid before 
the Minister and Louis XV., says "a stone house." It is by 
no means certain that Longueuil gave the Indians this idea. 
According to the version they gave, when taken to task the 
next year by Gov. Burnet, the French officer told the Onon- 
dagas "that he had built a Bark House at Niagara, which 
was old and began to decay, that he could no longer keep 
his goods dry in it, and was now come to desire leave to 
build a bigger house, wherein his goods might be safe 
from rain, and said that if they consented that he might 
build a house there and have vessels in Cadaracqui lake 
[Ontario], he promised it should be for their good, peace 
and quietness, and for their children's children, that the 
French would protect them for three hundred years." The 
Senecas were reported to have protested ; they sent a wam- 
pum belt to the Onondagas, with the warning that "in case 
the French should desire to make any Building or Settle- 
ment at Niagara or at Ochsweeke [Lake Erie] or elsewhere 
on their land, they should not give their consent to it." But 
the Onondagas, "being prevailed upon by Fair speeches and 
promises, rejected the Sinnekes belt, and gave the French 
leave for building at Niagara." It was Joncaire, as we have 
seen, who overcame the objection of the Senecas. Return- 
ing from their country, he brought word that they would 
not hinder the construction, though he had previously cau- 
tioned Vaudreuil not to attempt a stone building. But the 
elder Longueuil, writing to the Minister under date of Oct. 
31, 1725, explicitly says of his son's achievement: "The 
Sieur de Longueuil, having repaired to the Onondaga vil- 
lage, found there the deputies of the other four Iroquois 
villages. He met them there, he got them to consent to the 
construction of the two barques and to the building of a 
stone house at Niagara." It was to be no fort, but "a house 
of solid masonry, where all things needed for trade with the 
Indians could be safely kept, and for this purpose he would 
go to Niagara to mark out the spot on which this house 
might be erected, to which they consented." 


The sequence of events in this affair affords a striking 
illustration of the way in which things were taken for 
granted, or work undertaken before official sanction was ob- 
tained or funds made available. The two barques, without 
which the construction of Fort Niagara would have been 
impossible, were being built before the Indians had given 
their consent to it. The consent of the Indians to the erec- 
tion of the fort was not gained until after its erection had 
been fully determined upon by the French; and all of this 
important work was well in hand long before the Depart- 
ment in France had provided funds for it. The plan of the 
Niagara house, which is spoken of as designed by Longueuil, 
was sent to the Minister in France, with an estimate of the 
cost, amounting to 29,295 livres. 36 Various estimates are 
mentioned in the dispatches of the time. De Maurepas, per- 
plexed by a multiplicity of demands, endorsed upon these 
dispatches : "It seems necessary to forego, this year, the 
grant of 29,295 li., and 13,090 li. for the house at Niagara 
and the construction of the two barques." At Versailles, 
April 29, 1727, Louis expressed his satisfaction at the 
construction of Fort Niagara, and promised to "cause to 
be appropriated in next year's Estimate for the Western 
Domain, the sum of 20,430 li., the amount of the expense, 
according to the divers estimates they have sent, and as the 
principal house at the mouth of the river must have been 
finished this spring, his Majesty's intention is, that Sieurs 
de Beauharnois and Duypuy [Dupuy] adopt measures to 
rebuild the old house next Autumn. This they will find the 
more easy, as the two barques built at Fort Frontenac will 
aid considerably in transporting materials. His Majesty 
agrees with them in opinion that the Iroquois will not take 
any umbrage at this, for besides being considered only as 
the reconstruction of the house already there, it will be used, 
at least during the Peace, only for Trade. They will, mean- 
while, adopt with those Indians such precautions as they 
shall consider necessary, to neutralize any new impressions 
of distrust the English would not fail to insinuate among 
them on this occasion. This must prompt them to have the 

36. The livre of the time corresponds to the modern franc. 


work pushed on with the greatest possible diligence." The 
King afterwards disapproved of any further outlay for "the 
old house," and Joncaire's establishment at the head of the 
lower navigation on the Niagara was never rebuilt. 

It was true then, as now, that building expenses do not 
always work out according to specifications. In October, 
1727, we find Dupuy trying to explain his heavy expenses: 
"The house at Niagara cost infinitely more than the 29,295 
li. granted for last year. The expeditions which we have 
had to send there in 1726 and this year have greatly in- 
creased the cost of freight and transportation of provisions 
needed there." 

Vaudreuil had hoped to have the vessels on Lake Ontario 
ready by the autumn of 1725 ; but no record is found stating 
that they sailed to the Niagara that year. The testimony of 
the correspondence, so far as known, shows that the vessels 
did not carry building material or workmen to the Niagara 
until navigation opened in the spring of I726. 37 The Baron 
de Longueuil wrote, Oct. 31, 1725: "The two barques have 
been finished this autumn, they will be ready to sail next 
Spring, and to carry the stone and other material needed for 
building the stone house at Niagara," etc. They were to 
take out on their first voyage, ten masons and four carpen- 
ters and joiners, besides the 100 soldiers with six officers 
detailed for the enterprise. 

Vaudreuil, as we have seen, had written that Longueuil 
had designed a plan for the proposed establishment on the 
Niagara, and it may have been in accordance with the sug- 
gestions of this soldier that the work was begun; but for 
such a construction as was desired, expert engineering 
ability was required. There was but one man in Canada 
qualified to undertake the task, and to him the Baron de 

37. The local histories and narratives relating to Fort Niagara usually 
give the date of its commencement as 1725. There is some discrepancy of 
dates in the documents, or copies of original documents, which I have examined; 
but it is plain that work on the "castle" was not begun until June, 1726. That 
the reader may know on what I base my conclusions, I have given in my 
narrative ample extracts from the documents themselves. 


Longueuil then governor ad interim, wrote under date of 
March 28, 1726: 

"I beg Monsieur Chaussegros de Lery, engineer, to work 
without let-up in building the Niagara house, which he will 
place wherever he shall judge it most advisable. It is a 
work of absolute necessity, the old house being of wood and 
offering no means of preservation, unless it is fortified. It 
is moreover the greatest consequence to profit by the favor- 
able disposition of the Iroquois in regard to us. I under- 
take to have this expense approved by the Court." 

Gaspard Chaussegros de Lery, who now becomes an im- 
portant figure in the story of the Niagara, was the son of an 
engineer of Toulon, where he was born, Oct. 13, 1682. 
Trained to his father's profession, we find him, in 1706, 
serving in the army of Italy, and gaining glory and a wound 
at the siege of Turin. A later service in the squadron of the 
Marquis de Forbin, took him to the coast of Scotland and 
won him a captain's rank in the infantry regiment of Sault. 
When the navy board (for so we may render "le conseil du 
marine") decided in 1716 to undertake a more extensive 
system of fortifications in Canada, it chose De Lery to carry 
out the royal plans. These included an elaborate refortifica- 
tion of Quebec, the building of a wall around Montreal and 
subsequently of other works at Chambly, Three Rivers and 
other points, as well as the construction of prisons and public 
buildings. De Lery came at once to the scene of his labors, 
perfected the plan of what he proposed to do at Quebec, and 
returning to Paris, submitted it to the King. His plans and 
estimates were approved and he returned to Canada to press 
forward the work. The correspondence of the time shows 
that he was much embarrassed by lack of sufficient appro- 
priations; a fact which gives special point to the closing 
statement in M. de Longueuil's letter, assigning him to 
Niagara. Not having received any order from the Court 
to undertake this work, De Lery was apprehensive that the 
King would not approve. However, relying on the assur- 
ance of Longueuil, he devoted himself to it in the summer of 


1726. Under date of July 26th of that year the Baron de 
Longueuil wrote to the minister: 

"It is for me to inform you of the measures which I took 
this last spring for the establishment of the post of Niag- 
ara . . . and of my plan for sending to Niagara as 
soon as navigation was open, in order to forestall the Eng- 
lish, and to begin early to work on the house of which we 
have had the honor to send you the plan, in order that it 
may be completed this year. M. Begon assured me that he 
would send the workmen I had asked for, as soon as the ice 
went out, and that M. de Lery would come to Montreal at 
the same time. He arrived here in March; and in April I 
sent the workmen with a detachment of a hundred soldiers, 
commanded by my son and four other officers. As soon as 
they arrived at Niagara, I learn by these officers, M. de Lery 
had laid out the house in another place than that which I 
had proposed to him, and which had seemed to me most 
suitable in order to make us masters of the portage, and of 
the communication between the two lakes. He will no 
doubt give you his reasons. ' 

"The work has been very well carried on and the fortifi- 
cations are well advanced. The barques which were built 
last year at Frontenac have been of wonderful aid. They 
sent me word the tenth of this month that the walls were 
already breast high everywhere. There has been no opposi- 
tion on the part of the Iroquois, who on the contrary appear 
well satisfied to have us near them ; but the English, rest- 
less and jealous of this establishment, have seduced and 
engaged several Seneca chiefs to come and thwart us with 
speeches of which I send herewith a copy, and which have 
had no other effect than to reassure us of the good will of 
the Iroquois." He expresses the hope that the house at 
Niagara will be finished this year, refers to -the Dutch and 
English at Oswego, and adds : "The uneasiness I have felt, 
because of the English and Dutch, who had threatened to 
establish themselves at Niagara, and my fears lest the Iro- 
quois would retract the word they gave last year, have not 
permitted me to await your orders for the construction of 



this house. I beg you to approve what I have done through 
zeal for the good of this colony." 

One of the "four other officers" referred to in the fore- 
going letter, -as having shared in the building of Fort Ni- 
agara, was the Sieur de Ramezay, "Chevalier of the Royal 
and Military Order of St. Louis," etc., as later memoirs 
recount his titles. He was only an ensign in the colonial 
troops in 1720, when he entered upon his Canadian service; 
and he remained in the garrison at Montreal until the spring 
of 1726, when he was appointed lieutenant and sent to 
Niagara. Another who snared in this undertaking was a 
son of Lieut. Le Verrier. The youth "showed good quali- 
ties in his service at Niagara," but becoming sick was sent 
back to Quebec. Still another unfortunate was the Sieur 
de la Loge, who received so severe an injury in one of his 
eyes, at Niagara in this summer, that it was feared he would 
lose the sight of both ; he was sent to Quebec and thence to 
Paris, that he might have the attention of the famous occu- 
list, St. Yves. 

Under date of Sept. 5, 1726, the Chevalier de Longueuil, 
son of the Baron whose letter has been quoted, wrote from 
Niagara that the new house was very much advanced, and 
would have been finished had it not been for the sickness 
that broke out among the workmen, thirty of whom had been 
ill ; but that the place was then enclosed and secured. 

De Longueuil, who knew the region well, had proposed 
that the stone house should stand further up the river, 
and on going to the Niagara, after his successful conference 
at Onondaga, had decided to place it "on a most advan- 
tageous elevation, about 170 feet from the old house, and 
some 130 feet from the edge of the river; the barques could 
there be moored to shore, under the protection of the house, 
of which they could make later on, a fort with crenelated 
enclosure or wooden stockade" ; but De Lery decided 
otherwise, holding that the angle of the lake and river 
not only commanded the portage and all communication 
between the lakes, but enabled the French to keep watch 
over Lake Ontario, so as to prevent the English from going 


to trade on the north shore of that lake. The English could 
not cross the lake in their bark canoes ; to reach the north 
side, the natural route was by skirting the shore, from 
Oswego to Niagara and westward. Hence, even though 
De Lery had placed the fort at the portage, the English 
might easily have seized the mouth of the river, and by 
controlling Lake Ontario, have blockaded the French in 
their fort and starved them into a surrender. They could 
have made it impossible for assistance to reach it from the 
base of supplies, Frontenac, or the river towns; and they 
could have made it equally impossible for the garrison of 
Fort Niagara to withdraw. The two barques which the 
French counted so greatly upon, for communication with 
the new establishment, would often find it a tedious if not 
impossible matter to beat up to the portage against seven 
miles of steady current; whereas the post, if placed at the 
mouth of the river, would always be accessible, these ves- 
sels making the passage from Fort Frontenac and return, 
in fair weather, in about fourteen days. All of these rea- 
sons are so cogent that one can but wonder that an officer 
of Longueuil's experience should have considered any other 
spot than that fixed upon by De Lery. The latter's capabili-, 
ties as a military engineer were sometimes called in quesf 
tion. Montcalm, more than a quarter century later, spoke 0f 
him not only as "a great ignoramus in his profession:," 
adding, "it needs only to look at his works," but declared 
that he "robbed the King like the rest" of the men who 
served as Engineers in Chief in Canada. 38 Be that as it may, 
De Lery's judgment in locating Fort Niagara was justified 
by the circumstances. 

When the foundations of the stone house were laid and 
the walls were rising, De Lery traced a fort around them. 
He made a map of the lake, showing the mouth of the river, 
and prepared plans and elevations of the house. The draw- 
ings were forwarded to the King, and are described in the 
abstract of dispatches. The portion of the works which it 

38. Montcalm to M. de Normand, Montreal, April 12, 1759. Paris Docs., 
X, 963. 


was found impossible to complete, before the winter of 
1 726-^27 set in, he colored yellow. He probably procured 
part of his stone from the Heights ("Le Platon"), his timber 
from the marsh west of the river. With the map there was 
also sent a memoir "to make plain my reasons for placing 
the house ["maison a machicoulis"} at the [entrance of the] 
strait, where it now stands, and where the late Marquis de 
Denonville, governor-general of this country, had formerly 
built a fort, with a garrison." He sent also a plan and esti- 
mate for a small house at the Niagara portage, adding: 
"This house will be useful in time of peace, but in case of 
war with the Indians, it could scarcely be maintained, on 
account of the difficulty of relieving the garrison." The 
memoir continues : 

"I arrived, June 6th, with a detachment of troops, at the 
entrance to the river Niagara. The same day I examined 
it, with the masters of the barques. We found it not navi- 
gable for the barques." The examination must have been 
most superficial, for once past the bar at the mouth, they 
would have found a deep natural channel for seven miles. 

"I remarked, in beginning this house, that if I built it, like 
those in Canada, liable to fire, should war come and the 
savages invest it, as was the case formerly with Mons. 
Denonville's fort, if it caught fire the garrison and all the 
munitions would be wholly lost, and the [control of the] 
country as well. It was this which determined me to make 
a house proof against these accidents. Instead of wooden 
partitions ["cloisons"] I have had built bearing-walls ["des 
murs de refend"], and paved all the floors with flat stones. 
. . . I have traced around a fort of four bastions; and 
in order that they may defend themselves in this house, I 
have made all the garret windows machicolated ; the loft 
["grenier"] being paved with flat stones on a floor full of 
good oak joists, upon which cannon may be placed above 
this structure. Though large it would have been entirely 
finished in September, had not some French voyageurs com- 
ing from the Miamis and Illinois, in passing this post, 
spread the fever here, so that nearly all the soldiers and 


workmen have had it. This has interfered with the con- 
struction so that it has not been completed in the time that I 
had expected. There remains about a fourth of it to do 
next year. This will not prevent the garrison or traders 
from lodging there this winter." That his own services 
should not be overlooked he added: "I have the honor to 
inform you, Monsigneur, that my journeys to Niagara 
have occupied nearly five months." 

De Lery's apprehensions regarding official approval of 
his choice of site for Fort Niagara were set at rest the next 
spring by the following letter from the new Minister of 
Marine : 

"The Marquis de Beauharnois and M. Dupuy have for- 
warded to me the maps and plans which you sent to them, 
with data explaining your reasons for building the Niagara 
house where the late Marquis de Denonville had reared a 
wooden fort, which time has destroyed, instead of placing 
it at the portage where the old house stood. His Majesty 
is pleased to approve it. He is gratified with your zeal and 
the diligence with which you have conducted the work. 
The Marquis has asked for you the Cross of St. 
Louis." 39 


While the King's engineer was busy with the plan and 
actual construction of the fort, Joncaire and his long-time 
friend and associate, the younger Longueuil, were fully 
occupied in keeping the savages in good humor. There is 
no known basis for the story that the French, resorting to 
stratagem, planned a hunt which should draw the Indians 
away from the spot until the building had progressed far 
enough to serve as a defense in case of attack. 40 Such a 

39. Maurepas to Chaussegros de Lery, Brest, May 13, 1727. In later 
letters it is stated that M. de Lery was to receive the coveted decoration on 
Sept. 25, 1727. 

40. "It is a traditionary story that the mess house, which is a very strong: 
building and the largest in the fort, was erected by stratagem. A consider- 


story does not accord with Joncaire's known relations with 
the Senecas. 

It was a singular council that was held on the Niagara 
probably at the old house at Lewiston on July 14, 1726, 
between the younger de Longueuil and representatives of 
the Five Nations. Addressing himself to the officer, one of 
the chiefs referred to the conference of the preceding spring, 
and holding out a wampum belt, said : "I perceive my death 
approaching. It is you and the English who come to destroy 
us. I beg you, cease your work until I may hear your voice 
another time. Put the time at next September, when I will 
show you what is in my heart, as I hope you will open yours 
to me." 

The shrewd commandant of Niagara was not to be di- 
verted from his purpose. "Here is your belt, my son," he 
said, taking up the wampum. "I fold it and put it back in 
your bag." The return of the wampum always signified a 
rejection of proposals. "I put it back, not purposing to dis- 
continue the works which they have sent me to do here. I 
hold fast to your former word, which consented that there 
should be built here a new and large house, to take the place 
of the old one, which can be no longer preserved. 

"I do not consider these words you now speak as coming 
from you Iroquois, but as an English speech which shall not 
stop me. See, here on the table are wine and tobacco, which 
go better than this affair, which must be forgotten and 
which I reject." 

As this "talk" was not confirmed by a belt, a second 
council was held at the unusual hour of midnight ("tenu a 
minuit"), at which a much finer belt of wampum was offered 
and accepted, with longer speeches, in which the Senecas 

able, though not powerful, body of French troops had arrived at the point. 
Their force was inferior to the surrounding Indians, of whom they were 
under some apprehensions. They obtained consent of the Indians to build a 
wigwam, and induced them, with some of their officers, to engage in an exten- 
sive hunt. The materials had been made ready and while the Indians were 
absent the French built. When the parties returned at night they had advanced 
so far with the work as to cover their faces and to defend themselves against 
the savages in case of an attack." "The Falls of Niagara," by Samuel DeVeaux,, 
Buffalo, 1839. 


promised to stand by the pledges which the Onondagas had 
made. "It is not only for the present that I speak," said a 
chief, "but for always. We join hands for good business, 
we five Iroquois nations, and may we always keep faith, and 
you do the same on your side." 

At the very outset of this new undertaking, the success of 
which he had so much at heart, Philippe de Rigaud, Mar- 
quis de Vaudreuil, died at Quebec, Oct. 10, 1725, and was 
buried in the church of the Recollets at Chateau St. Louis. 
It would be superfluous here to enter upon a review of his 
long and on the whole successful administration; but it is 
pertinent to our especial study to recall his relations to the 
Niagara region. In France, as early as 1676, he had served 
in the Royal Musketeers. In the year of his arrival in 
Canada, 1687, we find him commanding a detachment of 
the troops of the Marine, engaging in the Iroquois cam- 
paign with Denonville, and sharing in the establishment of 
the ill-fated Fort Denonville at the mouth of the Niagara. 
The knowledge of the region gained then, undoubtedly 
affected his direction, throughout many years, of the en- 
deavors of Joncaire and the younger de Longueuil. Soon 
after his first coming to Niagara, he was promoted to the 
rank of captain, for gallantry in the defense of Quebec 
against Phipps. He was decorated with the cross of St. 
Louis for a successful Indian campaign; and in 1698, when 
Callieres succeeded Frontenac as Governor of Canada, the 
Chevalier de Vaudreuil succeeded Callieres as Governor of 
Montreal. It was in 1703 that he again followed Callieres, 
in the highest office of the colony. Though not a Canadian 
by birth, his connections by marriage were Canadian, and 
more than any other governor up to that time, he identified 
himself with colonial interests. The French in military or 
civil office in Canada were by no means always devoted to 
the welfare of the country; but Vaudreuil seems for the 
most part to have served it like a patriot. Throughout the 
twenty-two years of his administration,, he had ever in view 
the promotion of the fur trade, the extension of French 
influence on the Lakes. His master-stroke in these efforts 


was to be the establishment of Fort Niagara, regarding 
which Louis XV. had written to him with his own hand: 
"The post of Niagara is of the greatest importance, to pre- 
serve the trade with the upper countries." The King no 
doubt had derived his impressions from Vaudreuil's repre- 
sentations, but none the less, royal sanction was useful. 
Now, on the eve of achievement, his hand is withdrawn and 
another is to take up the work. 

Louis XV. selected as the successor of Vaudreuil, 
Charles, Marquis de Beauharnois, a natural son of Louis 
XIV. He had been an office-holder in Canada a score of 
years prior to this date, having in 1702 succeeded M. de 
Champigny as Intendant. In 1705 he was appointed "Di- 
rector of the Marine Classes" in France, but he was captain 
of a man-of-war when, Jan. n, 1726, Louis XV. commis- 
sioned him to be Governor of Canada, an office which he 
was to administer until 1747, thus becoming a factor of no 
little consequence in the particular history that we are 
tracing. In the interim between Vaudreuil's death and the 
arrival of Beauharnois, that is, until Sept. 2, 1726, the first 
Baron de Longueuil was the chief executor for Canada. He 
solicited the governorship, but was without influence; the 
Court, it is said, was advised not to appoint a native Cana- 
dian. But the post which was denied him was, later on, to 
be filled by his son. 

Chabert de Joncaire of the trading-house at the portage 
is spoken of at this period as the commander at Niagara 41 ; 
it is not plain, however, that he was in command of troops 
at the new fort. In July, 1726, the son of the lieutenant 
governor of Montreal was sent with a small body of men 
to garrison the fort and complete the works. This man, 
with whom begins a succession of commandants of Fort 
Niagara which continues to the present day, was Charles Le 
Moyne the second Le Moyne, it will be borne in mind, 
being the family name of the Baron de Longueuil. The first 
of that title was now a veteran of seventy years. The new 
commandant, too, had seen many years of service for the 

41. N. Y. Col. Docs., IX, 979. 


King in America, and had been on the Niagara before this 
time. As early as 1716 he had made a campaign beyond 
Detroit, into the Illinois country, and had been reported as 
killed. We have noted his great influence with the Indians ; 
but the few glimpses afforded of him in the official docu- 
ments give little idea of his personality, save in one respect : 
he was, at a somewhat later period than we are now con- 
sidering, very corpulent, so that, in the language of the 
chronicle, he was "illy adapted for travel." He was forty 
years old when he came to command the new fort on the 
Niagara. Three years later he was to succeed, on the death 
of his father, to the title and estate of baron. 

It should not be overlooked that this new establishment, 
which marked a new advance of France and was a new ex- 
pression of that power, short-lived though it was to be, in 
the Lake region and Mississippi Valley, identifies with the 
story of the Niagara a scion of the greatest Canadian family 
of its period, and, in certain aspects, one of the most im- 
portant and influential families concerned in making the 
history of America. Charles Le Moyne the immigrant, son 
of a tavernkeeper of Dieppe, played his part in the New 
World as pioneer, interpreter, and trader, marvelously pros- 
perous for his day and opportunities. But the family fame 
begins with his many sons, several of whom appear on the 
pages of seventeenth and eighteenth century history by the 
surnames drawn from their seigneurial rights and estates. 
One of these sons, Charles, was that first Baron de Longueuil 
whom we have seen as a major in La Barre's expedition; 
campaigning with Denonville against the Senecas; helping 
in the establishment of the ill-fated fort on the Niagara 
which was built in 1687, and subsequently serving his King 
in many capacities, not least important of which was that as 
negotiator with the Iroquois, thus paving the way for the 
erection of the new Fort Niagara. These were incidents in 
his later years while serving as lieutenant governor of 
Montreal. In his more youthful days, and while his numer- 
ous younger brothers were still children, he had served in 
France ; as one appreciative student has admirably summed 


it up "had, with his Indian attendant, figured at Court as 
related by the Duchess of Orleans in one of her letters to 
her sister, the Countess Palatine Louise; had married the 
daughter of a nobleman, a lady in waiting to her Royal 
Highness of Orleans; and had built that great fortress- 
chateau of Longueuil, the marvel of stateliness and elegance 
of the day for all Canada; and had obtained his patent of 
nobility and title of Baron." 42 Of his brothers, six 
Iberville, Saint Helene, Maricourt, Serigny, Bienville, 
Chateauguay have written their names on the continent 
from Hudson's Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, none more 
largely or lastingly than Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, who as 
Bienville is known as the Father of Louisiana. And of his 
sons, Charles Le Moyne the second, born in 1687, was the 
captain, the chevalier and (on the death of his father) the 
second Baron de Longueuil ; the adopted son of the Onon- 
dagas, the comrade and friend of Joncaire, and the first 
commandant of the new Fort Niagara. 

A glimpse of the fort, during this interesting period of 
construction, is afforded by a letter written by the younger 
Longueuil to his father the baron. It is dated "Niagara, 
5th September, 1726," and runs in part as follows: 

There are no more English at Oswego or at the little fall. The 
last canoe which has gone to winter had to go on to Albany to find 
brandy, and they assure me that there is not one in the whole length 
of the lake or the river. This is the third canoe that has told me 
the same thing. If I meet any in the lake or going down, I will 
have them pillaged. 

It will be October before I can leave here, and I do not know 
when we shall have finished. Sickness has constantly increased. 
We have now more than thirty men attacked by fever, and I find 
that our soldiers resist better than our workmen. If they could 
work, we should not have enough of them to put the house in state 
of security this month. It would certainly have been finished this 
year, but for the sickness. I mean the stonework, for M. de Lery 
having sent away the sawyers, we have not enough planks to half 
cover it. The master-carpenter is sick and has done nothing for 
fifteen days. We shall cover what we can, and then close the gable 

42. Grace King's "New Orleans," p. 15. 


with the joist of the scaffolding. (" . . . bouchera le pignon 
avec les madriers d'echafaudage") If they (the gables) are not 
entirely enclosed, they will at any rate be protected by the walls all 

He adds that as soon as possible, he shall send back the 
married men, who are good-for-nothing weepers (les 
pleureux qui ne valent rien"), no doubt a true-enough char- 
acterization of the home-loving habitant, who in the savage- 
infested wilderness of the Niagara found himself homesick 
even to tearfulness. 

Among the French officers at Niagara in the summer of 
1726 was Pierre Jacques Payen, Captain de Noyan; who 
wrote, probably in the fall of that year, 43 to the Marquis de 
Beauharnois, as follows : 

"As I believe, monsieur, that you have not recently been 
informed regarding the establishment at Niagara, I crave 
the honor of telling you as to the condition of the house 
when I left there, and such news as I learned on my way. 

"I set out from Niagara the 8th of this month. The 
works would have been finished by this time, had not fre- 
quent rains and the violent fevers which attacked nearly all 
our workmen, long delayed their completion. 

"There remained yet twelve or fifteen days' work of 
masonry to do, and there is reason to fear that the timber 
framework is not yet ready to put up. Whatever diligence 
M. de Longueuil may have been able to use, he could not 
procure planks enough to cover it." 

The letter continues with a graphic account of negotia- 
tions between the English and the Iroquois, as it was re- 
ported to Capt. de Noyan at Fort Frontenac. It is but an- 
other version of the unsuccessful negotiations of Peter 
Schuyler this time disguised in the old French as "Joan 

43. The copy of M. de Noyan's letter which I havi_ followed in the 
Archives office at Ottawa, bears date Feb. 22, 1726. The original obviously 
was written some months later than that, probably in September. The old 
form of indicating September "ybre" may very likely have been misread by 
a copyist. September 22 d also accords with the date of a report by de Noyan, 
given in an abstract of despatches relating to Niagara, N. Y. Col. Docs., IX, 


Sckuila." "You know," Schuyler is reported to have ha- 
rangued to the tribes, "you know that the French are build- 
ing a fort at Niagara in order to reduce you to slavery 
and you are resting with your arms crossed. What are you 
thinking of? We are all dead, brothers, you and I, if we do 
not prevent our loss by the destruction of this building. 
Look at these barques, which will carry you off captive. It 
is for you to say whether they have been built by your con- 
sent." And after listening to more in like strain, the Indians 
returned Schuyler's wampum belt, and replied with cool 
sarcasm that he always said the same thing to them. "Yes," 
they added, "it is we who have desired these boats, we con- 
sented to what our son [M. de Longueuil] asked of us, we 
repent of nothing. . . . It is a thing done. We have 
given our word." 

It was at this council that Schuyler asked the consent of 
the Five Nations for the English to build a trading-house 
opposite the French post ["batir aussi a Niagara une maison 
vis-a-vis celle de votre Pere"} ; but to this proposition they 
returned the wampum, saying they would have nothing to 
do with it, and Schuyler could arrange as best he might with 
"Onontio." There is a triumphant tone in Capt. de Noyan's 
letter, reporting this defeat of the English at so critical a 
time. English enmity now centered on Joncaire, who was 
regarded as the chief instrument of their discomfiture. It 
was reported that certain Seneca chiefs were bribed to make 
way with him. One of the few letters written by Joncaire 
which are preserved, was written at the end of 1726, at 
Fort Niagara, apparently to his friend the younger Lon- 
gueuil, then commanding at Fort Frontenac. It runs in 
part as follows : 

NIAGARA, 26 December, 1726. 

I am obliged to you for the notice which you gave me by your 
letter of December 28th, concerning the council which was held 
between the Iroquois nations and the governors of Boston and New 

Tagariuoghen, chief of the Sault Ste. Louis, and one named 
Alexis, chief of the Lake of the Two Mountains, have just acknowl- 
edged to us the design of the English, and the promises which 


the Iroquois made to them, concerning the house at Niagara, and 
me. I learned the same thing toward the end of November at the 
Seneca village where I had gone, after giving the necessary orders 
for the Niagara garrison, to reply to a belt which the Iroquois had 
send to the Governor at Montreal. 

I found in this village only coldness towards us and any good 
words which I could say to them were scarcely listened to. The next 
night, toward midnight, they wakened me for a council; and being 
come there, they begged me to treat peaceably with them, that 
there was no need of heat on the part of any of us. 

First, they said, the house at Niagara did not please them; that 
they strongly suspected that it was only the Onondagas who con- 
sented to its construction, and that the four other nations had no 
part in it. 

Second, that M. de Longueuil had promised to make a present 
of three barrels of powder and a proportion of balls to each nation, 
but they had seen nothing of all that. 

They held out to me a belt for these things, but I would not 
touch it, and contented myself with telling them that their belt 
was a rattlesnake which would bite me if I took it in my hand, and 
that moreover their father Onontio had sent me to Niagara to listen 
to good words and not to bad. 

As to the house in question, it was the strongest pillar of the five 
Iroquois nations, since M. de Longueuil had intended in making 
it to deliver them from the slavery in which they had for a long 
time been. But [I said], as I saw that I was speaking to deaf men, 
I told them that they might 'make their speeches to people who 
knew how to answer. The Iroquois replied : 

"We hear you. You say that we should address Onontio. That 
was indeed our first thought, for our resolution is made for next 

The next day I noised it about that I saw clearly that their minds 
were divided, but that I hoped that they would find for us, as much 
as for the English ,and that it was useless for them to talk to me 
of abandoning the building ("de vider le plancher"), they could 
be assured that I should not quit Niagara until they had cut my body 
to pieces to give pleasure to the English and that even then they 
would have to deal with people who would come to look after my 
bones. I have still a trick ("un plat de man metier") to show them 
in the spring I put it aside till then, since my emissaries are not at 
the village, and whether it succeeds or not I shall promptly send 
my two oldest sons to Montreal to inform my superiors of the state 
of affairs in this country. 


One must restrain the Iroquois [ ? Senecas] in every way in this 
present affair, but it is necessary to interpose the Onondagas, and 
say to the Iroquois nations: Since when do you make no longer 
one body with the Onondagas? You have told us every year that 
what one Iroquois nation does or says, all the others agree to. Since 
when is all that changed? How comes it that when the English 
ask you which nation it was that gave permission to the French to 
build at Niagara, that in the presence of you all the Onondaga 
replied fiercely, "It was I." How happens it that you did not dis- 
pute this before the English? 

After all, I hope that the Holy Spirit which commonly gives to 
those who govern the State more light than to others, will furnish 
enough means to our superiors to confound the Iroquois and so 
reestablish peace. 

As for me, trust to my looking out for myself against the assas- 
sination which the English have at all times wished to accomplish. 
Whoever undertakes it will have half the risk. I will serve him 
as they do in Valenciennes. 

I beg you to communicate what I send you to Messieurs de 
Beauharnois, Intendant, and to our Governor at Montreal, and 
above all to so inform M. de Longueuil that he will be assured of 
the care which I take in the present affair. 

A little later Joncaire wrote again to the younger de 
Longueuil at Fort Frontenac: 

"... Inform our superiors of what has happened 
to me in this country. It is for them to direct what I should 
say and do. The Iroquois will go down to Montreal next 
spring to demand that we pull down the house at Niagara. 
If they destroy it," adds Joncaire with a fine touch of the 
Gascon, "it will only be when I, at the head of my garrison, 
shall have crossed in Charon's barque I shall show them 
the road to victory or to the tomb." Nevertheless, he adds 
the fervent hope : "May God change the hearts of those who 
are against us." 

It was not until the end of another season Oct. 17, 
1727 that Chaussegros de Lery reported to the Minister 
that the house at Niagara was entirely finished, surrounded 
with palisades and furnished with a guard-house to prevent 
surprise by the savages. Referring to the English at 
Oswego, he could not refrain from calling attention to the 
fact that events had justified his choice of site for Fort 


Niagara: "The English are established at the mouth of 
Oswego river, they have built a little fortified work ["petite 
redoubt a machicoulis"] and keep a garrison there. The 
French have always been masters of this post and of the 
south side of Lake Ontario. If they had built the stone 
house as proposed at the portage, it is certain that the 
English would have made another on Lake Ontario. This 
house at the portage appears to me useless. The old one, 
with some small repairs, will serve yet some years." He 
adds that if he "had been the master" the last year it would 
have been easy for him to establish the French at Oswego 
as well as at Niagara ; evidently forgetting for the moment 
that he had not established the French anywhere, however 
satisfactory from an engineering point of view his services 
on the Niagara had proved. Our study of the documents 
makes clear that Fort Niagara was made possible, under 
the encouraging policy of Vaudreuil, only by the devotion 
and personal influence of the younger de Longueuil and 
Chabert de Joncaire. 


What may be termed the political situation in the country 
of the Six Nations, and especially among the Senecas who 
kept the Western Door of the Long House, in the years from 
the building of Joncaire's house at Lewiston to the construc- 
tion and garrisoning of Fort Niagara, 1720-26, admirably 
illustrates the difficulty of treating with the Indian. Even 
the noble Iroquois was fickle, given to double-dealing; yet 
it was a duplicity inherent in a lower degree of social 
development than that from which his Caucasian tempters 
approached him. The wisest of their sachems were states- 
men in some matters, children in others. The Senecas 
adopted Joncaire according to their ancient custom, and 
through him gave the French their foothold on the Niagara. 
At the same time, tempted by the trade inducements of the 
English, they helped the Western tribes to go to Albany, to 
the confusion of the French, and allowed the English to get 
and to keep a footing in, their own territory. 


So matters continued until Longueuil, by his coup de 
maitre of 1725, gained permission in a council at Onondaga 
to build what soon proved to be a fort, in Seneca territory. 
We have already traced the steps of that construction, as 
recorded in the reports of the French. When Burnet heard 
of it, as he speedily did, down in New York, he may well 
have wondered what all his fair speeches to the Indians had 
accomplished, what all the tiresome councils had amounted 
to, of what avail the many lavish gifts. 

At the September council at Albany in 1726 he took the 
tribes to task. How is it, he demanded, have you given 
your consent to the French, to build this house at Niagara ? 
The answer was characteristic, but far from satisfactory. 
One Ajewachtha, an Onondaga sachem, was the mouthpiece 
for the occasion. When Longueuil was among the Onon- 
dagas last year, said the sachem, the Senecas heard what 
his errand was, and "sent a Belt of Wampum, . . . that 
in case the French should desire to make any Building or 
Settlement at Niagara or at Ochsweeke 44 or elsewhere on 
land, they should not give their consent to it. ... The 
Onondagas being prevail'd upon by Fair speeches and 
promises, rejected the Sinnekes belt, and gave the French 
leave for building at Niagara." De Longueuil, the sachem 
added, had promised that the French would protect them 
for three hundred years. 

Did the land at Niagara, asked Governor Burnet, belong 
to the Onondagas, or to the Senecas, or to all the Six 
Nations ? 

The Seneca sachem, Kanaharighton, replied that it be- 
longed to the Senecas particularly. 

Do the sachems of the other Five Nations acknowledge 

They all said it did; not only the land at Niagara 
belonged to the Senecas, but the land opposite it, on the 
other side of Lake Ontario. 

44. "Called by the French Lac Erit." Marginal note in New York Coun- 
cil Minutes, XV, 87. 


What business then, asked Burnet, had the Onondagas 
to grant the French permission to build there, when the 
land belonged only to the Senecas? 

"The Onondagas say it is true they have done wrong, 
they might better have left it alone and have left it to the 
Sinnekes whose Land it is, they repent of it and say that 
People often do what they afterwards repent of." 

The Onondaga further explained that the consent which 
had been given by his people, without leave of the other 
nations, was in accordance with their old customs ; one 
nation often spoke in the name of all the rest in the League. 
If the others afterwards approved of it, it was well ; if any 
of them disapproved, the pledge was void. The Six Nations 
"had sent Seneca and Onondaga sachems with a belt of wam- 
pum to the French at Fort Niagara, to protest against the 
proceedings and ordering the work to stop. But the French 
had not the red man's regard for the talking belts. We can 
not stop work, they said, with what show of gravity and 
regret may be imagined; "being sent and order'd by the 
Governour of Canada to build it," they "durst not desist 
from working." But they readily promised that Joncaire, 
who was soon going to Montreal, should inform the Gov- 
ernor that the Six Nations wished the work stopped; "he 
would bring back an Answer at Onondaga by the latter 
end of September (when the Indian corn was ripe), and 
then they threw their Belt back and rejected it by which 
they had spoke, and said they thought they were sent by 
the Govr of New York, on which they [the sachems] 
replyed that they were not sent by him, but by the Sachims 
of the Six Nations, and did not know who had given the 
French that liberty, that they did not know it, and desired 
that they would name the Sachims who had given their 
leave, on which they [the French] did not reply, but said 
that when the House was finished 30 souldiers would be 
posted there with Officers and a Priest." 

This and much more the Indians told Governor Burnet. 
In the same breath, the Onondagas took all the blame to 


themselves, and charged the French with perfidy. The Gov- 
ernor adroitly explained to them that France and England 
were at peace, and gave them to understand that it was not 
the English, but the Six Nations, whose interests were 
threatened by the new fort at the mouth of the Niagara. 
He read to them that portion of the Treaty of Utrecht which 
bore on the matter. The chief question, he gravely pointed 
out, was, whether the fort was prejudicial to them in their 
hunting, or to the Western Indians who might wish to 
come for trade. If they said it was not, His Excellency 
had nothing to say, and the French had done well; but if 
the Six Nations found it prejudicial to their interests, and 
complained of it to him, he would lay the matter before the 
English King. The Indians replied : 

"Brother Corlaer, . . . you ask if we approve of the 
building at Niagara; we do not only complain against the 
proceedings of the French in fortifying Niagara on our 
Land contrary to our inclination and without our consent, 
to pen us up from our chief hunting-place, but we also hum- 
bly beg and desire that Your Excell : will be pleased to write 
to His Majesty King George that he may have compassion 
on us, and write to the King of France to order his Gover- 
nour of Canada to remove the building at Niagara, for we 
think it very prejudicial to us all." And this the Governor 
agreed to do. 

Nothing could be finer than the temper and adroitness 
with which Burnet conducted this matter. At the opening 
of the conference his attitude was that of accuser, of one 
deeply wronged ; the attitude of the Indians that of culprits 
and deceivers. This aspect of their relations was quickly 
annulled by the calm, judicial air which the Governor gave 
to his inquiries. With rare insight into Indian character, 
he so presented the case that they became the wronged par- 
ties, the French the sole offenders, and himself merely the 
gracious friend who sought to do all he could in their 

This conference was held on September 7th. Two days 
later, the Governor made a long, impressive speech to the 


sachems. He reviewed the relations of the Five Nations 
to the French from the earliest days, not failing to show 
that the latter had been constant aggressors and treacherous 
enemies, and he pictured the building of the fort at Niagara 
as a new affront, which endangered the very existence of 
the Confederacy. His words had their intended effect. The 
sachems renewed their protestations, in terms of singular 
earnestness. "We speak now," said Kanackarighton, the 
Seneca, "in the name of all the Six Nations and come to you 
howling. This is the reason for what we howl, that the 
Governor of Canada incroaches on our land and builds 
thereon, therefore do we come to Your Excellency, our 
Brother Corlaer, and desire you will be pleased to write to 
the great King, Your Master, and if Our King will then 
be pleased to write to the King of France, that the Six 
Nations desire that the Fort at Niagara may be demolished. 
This Belt we give to you, Our Brother [Corlaer], as a token 
that you be not negligent to write to the King, the sooner 
the better, and desire that the letter may be writ very 

Not the least gratifying point to the Governor in this 
harangue was the expression "our King." The treaty com- 
missioners at Utrecht, thirteen years before, had agreed that 
the New York Indians were subjects of Great Britain ; but 
the Indians themselves were sometimes provokingly oblivi- 
ous of the relationship. 

Governor Burnet took advantage of the complaisant and 
suppliant mood of the sachems to suggest that, since they 
were asking the King of Great Britain to protect them in 
their own lands, it would be most proper "to submit and 
give up all their hunting Country to the King, and to sign 
a deed for it," as it had been proposed to do twenty-five 
years before. He intimated that had it been done then, they 
would have had a fuller measure of protection from the 
English. After consultations, the proposition was accepted, 
and the deed of trust, which had been executed July 19, 
1701, was confirmed and signed by Seneca, Cayuga and 
Onondaga sachems. Thus at Albany, Sept. 14, 1726, in- 


the thirteenth year of George I, was deeded to the English, 
a sixty-mile strip along the south shore of Lake Ontario, 
reaching to and including the entire Niagara frontier. 

The mighty League of the Iroquois had atoned for their 
blunder of letting the French build Fort Niagara in their 
domain, by giving it to King George. From this time on 
the "stone house" was on British soil ; but it was yet to take 
the new owner a generation to dispossess the obnoxious 

The fifteenth Article of the Treaty of Utrecht is as 
follows : 

"The subjects of France inhabiting Canada, and others, 
shall in future give no hindrance or molestation to the Fivq 
Nations or Cantons of Indians, subject to the Dominion of 
Great Britain,' nor to the other natives of America who are 
in friendly alliance with them. In like manner, the subjects 
of Great Britain shall behave themselves peaceably towards 
the Americans who are subjects or friends of France, and 
they shall enjoy, on both sides, full liberty of resort for 
purposes of Trade. Also the natives of these countries shall, 
with equal freedom, resort, as they please, to the British 
and French Colonies, for promoting trade on one side and 
the other, without any molestation or hindrance on the part 
either of British or French subjects; but who are, and who 
ought to be, accounted subjects and friends of Britain or of 
France is a matter to be accurately and distinctly settled by 

This was assented to by the representatives of England 
and of France, who signed the treaty of which it is a part, 
at Utrecht, April n, 1713. In due time it was promulgated 
in the Colonies. England in the valley of the Mohawk, and 
France on the Great Lakes, were at work, with such seduc- 
tive influences as they could exert, for the friendship of the 
savages and a greater profit from the fur trade. It was not, 
however, until Joncaire's cabin stood at the foot of the Niag- 
ara rapids, that the English took genuine alarm at what 
they regarded as the impudent encroachment of the French, 
and fell back upon the terms of the treaty for a definition of 


We have seen (pp. 129) that in 1721 Governor Burnet 
made a spirited protest against the establishment of Jon- 
caire's trading house, of which Vaudreuil had made an 
equally spirited, but not equally logical, defense. Protests 
of this sort being so obviously of no avail, correspondence 
on the subject between the Governors seems to have ceased. 
But when word reached Burnet of the new fort at the mouth 
of the river his ire was kindled afresh. On July 5, 1726, 
he wrote to M. de Longueuil, then: acting Governor, pend- 
ing the arrival of Beauharnois, a vigorous, but by no means 
offensive letter on the subject. He had learned, he wrote, 
that about a hundred Frenchmen were at Niagara, com- 
mencing the erection of a fort, "with the design of shutting 
in the Five Nations, and preventing the free passage of the 
other Indians at that point to trade with us as they have 
been in the habit of doing." He expressed his surprise that 
the French should undertake a project so obviously an 
infraction of the Treaty of Utrecht; denied that La Salle's 
brief occupancy of the region gave the French any rights, 
and reminded the Governor that the lands at Niagara 
belonged to the Five Nations. "Should the fortifying Niag- 
ara be continued," he added in conclusion, "I shall be under 
the necessity of representing the matter to my Superiors, 
in ord'er that the Court of France, being well informed of 
the fact, may give its opinion thereupon ; as I have heard 
that it has already expressed its disapprobation of the part 
Mr. de Vaudreuil took in the War of the Abenaquis against 
New England." 

Burnet sent his friend Philip Livingston, of the Colonial 
Council, to Montreal with this letter, and begged of M. de 
Longueuil considerate treatment of the messenger. The 
messenger was well enough received, but the reply which 
the Canadian soldier sent back, under date of August i6th, 
was far from apologetic. "Permit me, Sir, to inform you," 
it ran, "that it is not my intention to shut in the Five Iro- 
quois Nations, as you pretend, and that I do not think I 
contravene the Utrecht Treaty of Peace in executing my 
orders from the Court of France, respecting the reestablish- 



ment of the Niagara post, whereof we have been the mas- 
ters from all time. The Five Nations, who are neither your 
subjects nor ours, ought to be much obliged to you to take 
upon you an uneasiness they never felt, inasmuch as, so far 
from considering that the establishment at Niagara may 
prove a source of trouble to them, they were parties to it 
by a unanimous consent, and have again confirmed it in the 
last Council holden at Niagara, on the I4th of July last." 

De Longueuil, it will be observed, squarely contradicted 
the clause in the treaty which declared the Five Nations to 
be "subject to the dominion of Great Britain." His audac- 
ity was symbolical of the entire policy of France on the 
wilderness frontiers at this period. This feature of Baron 
de Longueuil's reply may well have surprised the English 
Governor. It would', no doubt, have surprised him still 
more had Longueuil meekly yielded to his demands, and 
promised to leave the Niagara. It was to be expected that 
he would base the French claim on the flimsy pretext of 
continuous right from La Salle's day ; but that, in addition 
to this claim, he should have the effrontery to deny and 
defy the plain declaration of the treaty, was matter for 

As we have seen, at the Albany conferences with the 
Indians, in September, Burnet had promised to lay the case 
their case, as he made it appear to them before the King. 
With his unfruitful correspondence with Longueuil fresh 
in mind he was more than willing to do so. Before the 
close of the year presumably by the first ship that served, 
which happened to be the Old Beaver, Mathew Smith, mas- 
ter, he despatched long letters on the subject, both to the 
Lords of Trade and to the Duke of Newcastle, King 
George's Secretary of State. For the edification of the for- 
mer, he rehearsed at length all that had taken place; told 
of the action taken at the conferences with the Indians ; 
exulted a little, as was natural, in announcing that they had 
signed a deed surrendering the land they lived in to the 
British Crown ; and enclosed a copy of the deed with this 
explanation of the fact that it was signed by only three of 


the nations: "The Maquese [Mohawks] and Oneydes live 
nearest to us, and do not reach to the French lake, and there- 
fore there was no occasion to mention the matter to them, 
and if I had proposed it publickly to them, it might soon 
have been known by the French, and have produced some 
new enterprize of theirs, so that I thought it best to do it 
with a few of the cheif and most trusty of the three nations 
who border upon the lakes." 

He sent to the Lords copies of his correspondence with 
Longueuil, and called especial attention to that officer's 
denial of the Treaty. 'The Treaty says," wrote Burnet, 
" 'The five Nations or Cantons of Indians, subject to the 
Dominion of Great Britain.' Mr. De Longueuil denys it 
expressly and says, 'Les cinq Nations qui ne sont ny vos 
Sujets ny les Notres.' The Five Nations who are neither 
your Subjects nor ours." He pointed out the other aggra- 
vating and inconsistent features of Longueuil's letter. 

To His Grace the Duke the Governor made a more con- 
cise but equally strenuous report, adding his "most earnest 
application" that Newcastle would "obtain His Majesty's 
directions, that strong instances may be made at the Court 
of France for this purpose, which I hope will be successful 
at a time when there is so firm an alliance between the two 
Crowns. . . . This is a matter of such consequence to 
His Majesty's Dominions in North America that I humbly 
rely on Your Grace's obtaining such a redress, as the Treaty 
entitles this Province and the Six Nations to, from the 
French, which can be [no] less than a demolition of this 
fort at Niagara." 45 

The Duke of Newcastle put the whole matter into the 
hands of Horatio Walpole, with instructions from King 
George that he should present it "in its full light" to the 
Ministers of the Court of France, "and to use all the neces- 
sary arguments to prevail on them to dispatch orders to the 
officer commanding in Canada to demolish that fort, and 
His Majesty doubts not but they will comply as soon as they 

45. Burnet to the Duke of Newcastle, N. Y., Dec. 4, 1726. 


shall be informed precisely of the state of this affair." 46 
Walpole prepared a memoir on Fort Niagara which he 
submitted, May 9, 1727, to the aged Cardinal de Fleury, 
Prime Minister of France. 47 In it he rehearsed at length the 
grievances which Burnet had communicated. Beyond the 
employment of a more polished style, Walpole's memoir on 
Niagara added nothing to the facts or the arguments as we 
have already reviewed them. At the end of his recital of 
facts, Walpole added the following : 

"It is to be remarked, that the Nations in question are 
formally acknowledged, by the Treaty of Utrecht, to be 
subject to and under Great Britain, and in virtue of the 
same Treaty they and all the Indians are to enjoy full lib- 
erty of coming and going for the purpose of trade, without 
molestation or hindrance. Now, the pass at Niagara is that 
by which the Far Indians are able to repair to the country of 
the Five Nations, and also the only one by which the Five 
Nations themselves can go into their own territory to hunt ; 
and in spite of the benevolent and innocent views Sieur de 
Longueuil pretends to entertain in building such a fort, the 
Indians cannot be reputed to enjoy free trade and passage 
so long as they are bridled by a fort built on their own terri- 
tory, against their will, and which absolutely subjects them 
to the pleasure of the French, wherefore they have recourse 
to their Sovereign and King, the King of Great Britain, who 
cannot refuse to interest himself strongly, as well on account 
of these subjects as for the maintenance of Treaties." 

In this smooth, featureless form, the innocuous phrases 
of a somewhat perfunctory diplomacy, Louis XV. received 
the English protest against the building of Fort Niagara 
that protest for which the Iroquois' sachems had gone to 
Albany "howling," and which they had begged should be 
"writ very pressing." Kanackarighton, the daubed and 

46. Duke of Newcastle to the Hon. Horatio Walpole, Whitehall, April 
11, 1727. 

47. DeFleury, formerly preceptor to the King, in 1726 succeeded the 
Duke de Bourbon Conde as Prime Minister of France, being then seventy- 
three years old. He lived until January, 1743- 


greasy Seneca, and Horatio Walpole, the courtier, were vast- 
ly farther apart than even the Court of France and the Niag- 
ara wilderness of which it is plain Walpole's ideas were of 
the vaguest. Many a forest ranger would have laughed at 
his claim that the fort at the mouth of the Niagara kept the 
Senecas from their hunting grounds. The germ of this 
specious plea lay in Burnet's benevolent suggestion to the 
Senecas, but it helped make a case against the French, and 
there were few either at Whitehall or the Court of Louis 
competent to criticise or likely to question it. Indeed, had 
the red Indians themselves made their "howl" before the 
French King and his ministers, the result, beyond the in- 
finite diversion which they would have made, would scarcely 
have been different. Even while the English protest was 
taking its official course, Louis and his ministers were 
affirming that "the post at Niagara is of the utmost import- 
ance for the preservation to the French of the trade to the 
upper country," and were considering the amounts to be 
spent on "the reconstruction of the old house at Niagara 
[Joncaire's Magazin Royal], the expense whereof, amount- 
ing to 20,430 1L, may be placed on the estimate of the ex- 
penses payable in 1728 by the Domain of the West." 48 

King George I. died June n, 1727; and; in Canada, in 
1726, the Marquis de Beauharnois had succeeded the Baron 
de Longueuil ; but the Niagara contention continued. Bur- 
net in the spring of 1727 having built and fortified a stone 
house at Oswego, the new Governor of Canada at once as- 
sumed the aggressive ; sent a formal summons to Burnet to 
withdraw his garrison thence within a fortnight, and "to 
cast down the block house and all pieces of work you raised 
up contrary to righteousness," "or else His Lordship the 
Marquis of Beauharnois will take measures against you and 
against your unjust usurpation as he will think fit." With a 
fine solicitude for a rigid adherence to the Treaty of 1713, 
the humor of which must even then have shown itself to 
Burnet, if not to Beauharnois, the French Governor accused 

48. Abstract of Despatches relating to Oswego and Niagara, N. Y. Col. 
Docs., IX, 979. The remark quoted above, on Niagara's importance, is a note 
by the King himself. 


the English Governor of "a plain contravention to the 
Treaty of Utrecht, which mentions that the subjects of the 
two Crowns shall not intrench upon one another's land, till 
the decision of the limits by the judges delegated to that 
end" a decision which was never made, for the commis- 
sioners contemplated by the i5th article of the Treaty were 
never appointed. The English contention, as afterwards 
formulated by Walpole in his memoir on Fort Oswego, was 
that their fortification at that point was no violation of the 
Treaty, "since the Commissioners to be named would have 
nothing to determine relative to the countries of the Five 
Nations, who are already declared by the Treaty of Utrecht 
to be subjects to the Crown of England." This was a per- 
fectly just deduction from the obvious intent of the treaty. 

Burnet replied to the arrogant demand of Beauharnois 
with his usual spirit and good sense; reminding him that 
when he (Burnet) had protested against the operations of 
the French at Niagara, he had been content with writing to 
Court, for the English Ambassador to make dignified and 
decorous presentation at the Court of France: "I did not 
send any summons to Niagara, I did not make any warlike 
preparations to interrupt the work, and I did not stir up the 
Five Nations to make use of force to demolish it, which I 
might have done easily enough." In a long letter, he de- 
fended his right, under the treaty, to build at Oswego, and 
denied again the right of the French to occupy Niagara: 
"It is true, sir, that I have ordered a stone house to be built 
there [at the mouth of the Oswego], with some contriv- 
ances to hinder its being surprised, and that I have posted 
some souldiers in it, but that which gave me the first thought 
of it, was the fortified and much larger house which the 
French have built at Niagara, upon the lands of the Five 

In due time report of this correspondence reached the 
Lord Commissioners of Trade. Under date of Dec. 21, 
1727, they referred it all once more to Newcastle; and His 
Grace in turn placed it in the hands of Horatio Walpole. 
Recalling the memoir on the subject of Fort Niagara which 
Walpole had made the year before, Newcastle wrote to him : 


"Both that Memoir and his Eminence's answer to you, 
promising to give orders to examine this matter, and to de- 
cide according to justice, led us to expect that there would 
not be any more cause for complaint, but as, instead of see- 
ing it remedied, His Majesty has been advised that the 
French think of encroaching still further on the countries 
under his obedience in said quarter, he has deemed it ex- 
pedient that you again apply to the Court of France to in- 
duce it to transmit the most precise orders to the Governor 
of Canada to abstain from attempting anything contrary to 
the Treaties, so that all these differences between the sub- 
jects of the two Crowns may be terminated in such a man- 
ner that the Indians may visit each other without molesta- 
tion, and the Five Nations receive such encouragement and 
protection from His Majesty as they must naturally expect 
from their Sovereign." 49 

The result of these instructions was Walpole's memoir on 
Oswego, laid before the French Prime Minister, March 9, 

The 1 5th article of the Utrecht Treaty continued a fruit- 
ful source of disagreement for many years to come. In 
1748 we find Gov. Clinton of New York carrying on an 
epistolary dispute with La Galissoniere, who had succeeded 
de Beauharnois, over this same debatable article. The 
French Governor had his own interpretation of it, alleging 
that it "does not name the Iroquois, and though it did so, it 
would be null in their regard, since they never acquiesced 
therein : we have always regarded them as Allies in common 
of the English and French, and they do not look on them- 
selves in any other light." "You are misinformed," replied 
Clinton, "for they have done it [i. e. submitted themselves to 
Great Britain] in a solemn manner, and their subjection has 
been likewise acknowledged by the Crown of France in the 
Treaty of Utrecht." 60 This disparity of view between the 
two countries continued as long as France held Canada. 

49. Newcastle to Wai pole. The letter as printed in N. Y. Col. Docs., 
IX, 959, is dated "Whitehall, i6th May (O. S.), 1726," but the year should 
be 1728. 

50. Clinton to La Galissoniere, Fort George in New York, Oct. 10, 1748. 



For a decade and more following the building of the new 
fort, Joncaire the elder continued active in matters relating 
to the history of the Niagara. He was not military com- 
mandant, except apparently for a short period ; nor was he 
in charge of barter with the Indians at that post. Coming 
and going, now at the Seneca villages, now at Niagara, or 
again at his home in Montreal, he continued in the military 
service, but always charged with the special duty, which 
accorded well with his frequent service of interpreter, of 
cultivating cordial relations with the Senecas, and of report- 
ing on the movements of the English duties in which later 
on his eldest son is to succeed him, when the father is 
assigned to a new field of activity. 

From the day when Chaussegros de Lery broke ground 
for the great stone building at the angle of lake and river, 
life on the Niagara became more and more complex. The 
building operations drew thither hordes of curious and jeal- 
ous Indians. The trading-post at present Lewiston was still 
maintained, and in its neighborhood, at the foot of the port- 
age, as well as 1 at the head of the long carry, were settle- 
ments of the Senecas, many of whom found profitable 
employment in helping traders and travelers up and down 
the steep hills. Although the Mississaugas had not yet made 
their village across the Niagara from the new fort, they 
made temporary camp there and haunted the region in num- 
bers during this busy summer. However deserted and deso- 
late these lake and river shores may have been when winter 
shut down, and the wolfs long howl at the edge of the forest 
answered the west wind in its sweep over the bleak lake, 
there was varied life and activity when the ice broke up. 
Then came endless flotillas of bark canoes, loaded with pel- 
tries. The fur trade was old, long before the stone house 
at Niagara was built. Into the general history and condi- 
tions of that trade, it is unnecessary to go in these chapters. 
But certain features of that trade, and of the attendant life, 
heretofore unrecorded save in the long-neglected documents, 
may profitably be set down here in illustration of the condi- 
tions of the time on the Niagara and the lower lakes. 


The great purpose of the French in building the new 
fort on the Niagara was to regain the fur trade which was 
fast slipping from them into the hands of the English. The 
strategic advantage of the military occupation of the strait 
was not overlooked ; but it was far less by way of prepara- 
tion for a future contest at arms with England, than to 
secure purely commercial advantage, that the work was 
undertaken. And, from the French point of view, it was 
high time that something decisive be done. More and more 
the western tribes, who ravaged the great beaver-bearing 
grounds of the upper lake region, were being drawn to 
Oswego and Albany by the superior allurements, of the 
English. Longueuil, reporting to his father the baron con- 
cerning his Onondaga mission of 1725, wrote that he had 
seen more than a hundred canoes on Lake Ontario, making 
their way to Oswego. How to stop this trade was a matter 
of grave consequence to Canada. Returning from Onon- 
daga, he had encountered, many canoes, propelled by Nipis- 
sings and Sauteurs from the Huron regions, making their 
way into Lake Ontario by the Toronto River, and all headed 
for the mouth of the Oswego. The new barques, he reflected, 
should stop this. The Baron de Longueuil, in reporting his 
son's discoveries, added the further information that six- 
teen Englishmen had gone to trade at the Niagara portage, 
"where they appear to have wintered, having taken there a 
large quantity of merchandise. They even came within a 
day and a half of Frontenac, and have drawn to them by 
their brandy nearly all the savages, which has done so great 
an injury to the trade of these two posts that they will not 
produce this year a half of their usual amount." The 
French at this time heard! some things that were not so. 
There are many reports that the English intended to estab- 
lish themselves at Niagara ; such rumors had been current 
at Montreal and Quebec ever since 1720, when the English 
had proposed to put horses on the Niagara portage; the 
profits of that enterprise were to be shared with a Seneca 
chief who was to represent the English. But that project 
came to naught, nor is there convincing proof that the Eng- 


lish, either in 1720, 1725, or at any other time, were on the 
Niagara in trade, during the French occupancy. 

More credible, however, was the further news, gath- 
ered by the younger Longueuil in this momentous summer 
of 1725, that English and Dutch traders at Albany had 
bought 200 bark canoes from the Ottawas and Mississaugas, 
tribes which at this period carried most of their peltries to 
the British. Longueuil saw more than sixty of these canoes, 
making the Oswego portage. It looked to him as though 
the English were bent on pushing into the upper country 
and utterly destroying the French trade, "or to come in 
superior number to Niagara to make an establishment there, 
and to prevent that which we plan to do." Longueuil took 
his hundred soldiers to Niagara in the summer of 1726, not 
more to employ them as laborers on the stone house, than to 
patrol the lake and to stop the English canoes which were 
fully expected to swarm down upon them. The English did 
not come, but the hundred soldiers were maintained there, 
apparently, a year or more. Their return to Quebec is noted 
under date of Sept. 25, 1727. 

The French did what they could to check the growing 
English trade. Voyageurs passing through Lake Ontario 
were commanded to follow the north shore, from Frontenac 
to Niagara. If found near Oswego, they were liable to 
seizure and confiscation. In 1729, this order was renewed, 
emanating from the King himself, and the commandant at 
Fort Frontenac was cautioned to enforce it. It was pro- 
posed that two canoes, carrying trustworthy men, should 
cruise on the lake and intercept any traders headed for 
Oswego. In the spring of 1736, Beauvais, commandant at 
Fort Frontenac, learned that two traders, Duplessis and 
Deniau, were making for Oswego. Alphonse de Tonty was 
sent after them. He overtook them four leagues from the 
mouth of the Oswego River, confiscated the 300 pounds of 
beaver in their canoe, and carried them back to Frontenac, 
whence they were sent to Montreal and imprisoned. After 
a trial and fine of 500 livres each, which they were too poor 
to pay, they were further imprisoned for three months. The 


hope was expressed in the dispatches that this example 
would "always restrain those who might be inclined to drive 
a fraudulent trade." 

At Niagara, Capt. de Rigauville, whose command of that 
garrison extended over several troubled years, exerted him- 
self constantly to keep traders from passing along the south 
shore of the lake. His faithful services at Niagara won for 
him special recognition in the despatches. In 1733 promo- 
tion was asked for him ; but we find him, some years later, 
still in the same rank and at the same post. 

France and England being nominally at peace, the Cana- 
dian officials were wary when it came to actual conflict with 
their adversaries in trade; they showed a wholesome respect 
for the English ability and 1 willingness to come to blows ; 
but armed strife would have availed them nothing in the cir- 
cumstances. The main thing was to draw the Indians. To 
this end, the Government was urged, time after time, in the 
annual and special reports of the Governor and Intendant, 
to provide ample store of goods for Fort Niagara. In 1728, 
the Minister is specially begged to send goods in great 
abundance to the new house at Niagara, that the Indians 
may be kept from going to the English. Year after year 
this request is repeated in the dispatches. Occasionally the 
Indians found fault with the quality of the ecarlatines 51 
supplied by the French, or with the price in barter ; but the 
one thing that killed the fur trade at Fort Niagara was the 
restriction put on the sale of brandy. A report of 1735 
says, of the trade at Niagara and Frontenac, that it becomes 
yearly less and less, in proportion to the expenses incurred 
for it by the Crown. "These two posts, which some years 
before had produced 52,000 li. of peltries, for the past four 
years yielded only 25,000 to 35,000 li." All this loss was 
charged to the cessation of the brandy supply. The priests 
were reported to have refused to confess any one engaged 
in trading brandy to the Indians, and the storekeepers at 
Niagara and Frontenac were so disturbed by the decree of 
the bishop, forbidding the traffic, that they preferred to 

51. Ecarlatines, i. e., scarlatines, as some of the old records have it; 
probably coarse woolen stuff. Cf. ecarlates, an old word for hose or legging. 


relinquish their posts rather than fall under the ban of 
the church as a cas reserve. 52 Beauharnois, mournfully 
reviewing the situation, admitted that it was difficult to let 
the savages have brandy and keep them from getting drunk, 
"but it is equally certain that nothing so keeps them from 
trading with the French as the refusal to let them have 
liquor, for which they have an inexpressible passion." Two 
years later we read that the trade at Niagara and Frontenac 
is no better. "The suppression of the brandy trade, added 
to the bad quality of ecarlatines and low price of beaver, 
disgust the Indians who come there to trade they pass on 
to Oswego." And still later, in 1740, the Sieur Boucherville, 
then recently in command of the garrison at Niagara, gave 
several reasons to the Intendant, Hocquart, to show why 
trade was so bad at that post. First, he said, for several 
years past the brandy trade had been forbidden at Niagara ; 
and every year there came down from the upper country 
many canoes loaded with beaver and deer skins, but if on 
reaching Niagara the Indians could not get brandy they 
would not part with their peltries, but continued on to 
Oswego. Besides that, Indian traders in the pay of the 
English constantly intercepted the hunters as they came 
from the west and north, securing their peltries and effec- 
tively blocking the opportunities for trade with the French 
at Niagara. 

The Intendant consulted with the Minister at Versailles 
as to what might be done; but that dignitary was able to 
suggest nothing more effective than to send messages to the 
chiefs of the Mohawks, the Oneidas, and the Onondagas, 
who were the intermediary agents of the English, that they 
must cease favoring the English trade, or their canoes would 
be stopped! and pillaged. M. de Beaucourt was sent to a 
council at Onondaga, charged with this delicate mission. 
The assembled chiefs listened, apparently in complacent 
humor, and sent him away with the equivocal assurance that 
they would spread his words among the villages. 

52. Cos reserve, a grave offense, decision in which is reserved for the- 
bishop or other superior officer of the Church. 


In 1740 the Sieur Michael (sometimes written "St. 
Michael") succeeded Boucherville as commandant at Fort 
Niagara, being sent there because of his supposed ability to 
build up trade ; but in official circles at Quebec, as no doubt 
generally in the gossip of the day, the opinion prevailed 
that if the fur trade at Fort Niagara was to flourish the 
amount of the annual lease should be reapportioned with 
regard to the traffic; and be accompanied by a freer dis- 
pensation of brandy. 

The fur trade at the posts was carried on in two ways; 
either by lease (bail), the Intendant giving lease-hold to the 
highest and best bidder for the trade of a post, and the rent 
giving the exclusive rights to the lessee throughout the 
extent of his post; or by permits (conge), the Governor 
granting permissions to trade in certain forts. These per- 
mits were granted in great numbers to persons whom the 
Governor judged 5 proper. Those who received permits paid 
a certain sum (redevance) yearly. The proceeds, whether 
by lease or by conge, were received by the Governor, who 
distributed them in pensions or perquisites to certain officers, 
in gifts and alms to widows and children of officers, or 
other expenses of this sort. If at the end of the year, there 
remained any funds accruing from this source, they were 
turned into the general treasury. 53 

The posts of Frontenac, Niagara and Toronto at first 
were leased, but after a trial of that system, they were 
reserved for the King's trade, because of the keen rivalry 
of the English in these quarters. The lessees of these posts 
having put on their goods prices which seemed too high to 
the Indians, the English sent wampum belts among the 
tribes, with intelligence of the goods and liquor which they 
had at Oswego, and which they offered at lower prices than 
the French. As a consequence, the Indians would not stop 
to trade at Niagara. To checkmate this move, it was neces- 
sary to cancel the lease at Niagara, and at the other trading- 
posts on Lake Ontario; and by successive reductions in the 
price of goods, to regain the Indian trade. Niagara was 

53. "Memoire pour M. Francois Bigot . . .," Paris, 1763, p. 21. 


more convenient for the Indians than Oswego, being nearer 
to their hunting grounds. The reduction of prices at Niag- 
ara, however, was carried so far that goods were sold there 
on royal account at less than they had cost the King. For 
some years, there seemed no middle course. The French 
saw that they must submit to this loss at Niagara, or 
renounce the Indian trade and abandon the whole region 
to the English. After all, this diminution in the price of 
merchandise was less a real loss than a diminished profit, 
because the furs which the King received in trade were sold 
at Quebec, bringing as much as and sometimes more than 
the price paid by the King for goods traded to the Indians. 54 

So unsatisfactory was the state of trade, in the years 
following the erection of the stone house, that it was pro- 
posed once more to change the system of trade there. 
D'Aigremont wrote to the Minister, Oct. 15, 1728: "I 
Relieve it will be advantageous to lease the posts of Niagara 
and Frontenac, for there is now much loss in the trade 
made on the King's account, and it will always be so." 

In 1727 we find Beauharnois complaining of Dupuy's 
management of the trading-posts. "He has farmed out for 
400 francs the post at Toronto to a young man who is not 
at all fit. M. d'Aigremont, to whom M. Dupuy sent the 
agreement for signature, refused to sign, saying that he 
would talk about it with the Intendant, showing him that 
this would work great wrong to the trade at Frontenac and 
Niagara." Notwithstanding all that, Dupuy returned the 
agreement next day, but he refused to sign, alleging that 
he knew of another man who for some years past had offered 
a thousand crowns 55 for the lease. The statement, which 
M. de Longueuil confirmed, illustrates the favoritism and 
"graft" for which the administration of the colony was soon 
to become notorious. 

Although the building of the stone house at Niagara 
did somewhat stimulate the traffic at that point, it by no 

54. Bigot to the Minister, Sept. 30, 1750. 

55. "Mille escus" The value of the ecu is usually given at as. 6d. 


means removed all difficulties. The King's account suf- 
fered much at the hands of incompetent, careless or dishon- 
est agents. In the year 1728 Saveur Germain Le Clerc, 
who was in charge of the trading at Niagara in 1727, died 
after a long illness, during which his accounts were so neg- 
lected that M. d'Aigremont, reporting on the trade of the 
posts for that year, was unable to find out what goods or 
stores had been traded or used at Niagara ; and he despaired 
of being able to tell any better the following year, "M. 
Dupuy having sent to Niagara to replace the Sieur Le 
Clerc, a man who is scarcely able to read and sign his name, 
notwithstanding representations which I have made regard- 
ing it. This man is Rouville la Saussaye, to whom was 
leased last year the post at Toronto for one year for 400 
livres. He still has that lease, which is not compatible 
with his employment as clerk ("commis") and storekeeper 
("garde-magasin") of Niagara. This lease-hold which is 
at the foot of Lake Ontario and which has been exploited 
in the King's interest in past years as a dependency of Fort 
Niagara, ought not to be leased to the storekeeper in charge 
of trade at Niagara, because of the abuses which may spring 
from it this man may send off to the Toronto post the 
Indians who come to Niagara, under pretext that he has 
not in the storehouse there the things they ask for. Further- 
more he might make exchanges of good peltries for bad 
ones, and besides could intercept all the Indians in Lake 
Ontario, and so utterly ruin the trade at Forts Niagara and 

The representations of M. d'Aigremont were not with- 
out effect, for Rouville la Saussaye was soon succeeded by 
one La Force, who held the post for some years, though 
evidently not greatly to the King's profit. He carried on 
the barter with the Indians at Niagara, apparently in a loose 
way, with little or no balancing of books or auditing of 
accounts, from 1729 till 1738, when the Intendant, Hocquart, 
suspecting that all was not right, sent the Sieur Cheuremont 
to Niagara to investigate. The result was that La Force 
was found to be a debtor to the King's account in the 


amount of 127,842 chats. The chat or cat of the French 
fur-traders was probably the raccoon, 56 and the meaning of 
La Force's singular indebtedness is best given in the words 
of M. Hocquart: "According to the traders' method of 
keeping accounts, the cats are regarded at Niagara as [the 
unit of] money by means of which they estimate the price 
of goods and of peltries. For instance, a blanket will sell 
for eight cats, a pound of beaver-skin for two ; similarly 
with other articles of merchandise and furs." The Sieur 
Cheuremont informed Hocquart that he had reckoned on 
La Force's account all the provisions, stores and goods for 
trade which had been shipped to him, with allowance for 
all that he had used 1 , and accepting his own figures as to 
goods sold. The Intendant summoned the involved com- 
missary to Quebec, but when he demanded an explanation 
of the deficit, La Force could only say that Cheuremont had 
mad'e such calculations as he chose; as for himself, he had 
traded according to the established tariff. This tariff, he 
said, did not take into account the goods which were ruined, 
and he adduced yet other reasons for his great shortage. 
La Force had long had the reputation of a man of probity ; 
there was nothing on which to base a charge against him 
of theft. The Intendant therefore reached the conclusion 
that there had been nothing worse than great negligence in 
La Force's conduct of affairs, "and that his numerous family 
of eight or nine children had considerably increased the 
expenditures." Cheuremont toiled for three months in a 
vain effort to straighten the Niagara accounts ; meanwhile 
La Force was asking to be paid 1000 livres which he claimed 
due him each year, but which were withheld from him. 

The Intendant finally in 1739 replaced La Force with the 
Sieur Le Pailleur, whom he describes as "the most honest 

56. Chat and chat sauvage are terms which are very often encountered in 
the old reports, and would naturally be taken to mean wild-cat either the 
Lynx rufus or the Canadian lynx, Lynx Canadensis. A careful study of the 
subject by J. G. Henderson, in a paper read before the American Association 
for the Advancement of Science, 1880, reaches the conclusion that the chat of 
the early traders was really the raton of France, or in English, the raccoon. 
The fisher (Mustela canadensis), also often called wild-cat, is believed to be the 
pecan or pekan of the French-Canadian traders. 


man I can find for this employ." And again there were 
obstacles to a business-like administration of the post. Le 
Pailleur had scarcely taken up the duties at Niagara when 
he had an adventure with a mad bull, being dragged over 
two arpents of road*, and thus put hors d'etat for work, so 
that for the year 1739 he was unable to keep up his trading 
accounts or even to make an inventory of merchandise in 
the storehouse. 

There are preserved many reports regarding skins 
received at the Lake Ontario posts in these years. Niagara, 
Frontenac and Toronto are often summed up in one sched- 
ule. These lists, enumerating the number of each sort of 
fur received, with the price allowed, are not without inter- 
est, for they illustrate not only the state of the market, but 
the relative abundance of different animals taken by the 
Indians. Some of the old French names of species are dif- 
ficult to identify. In the following schedule of furs received 
at Niagara and Frontenac, season of 1727, "chat" has been 
rendered as raccoon, "vison" as mink, "pecan" as fisher 
(Mustela canadensis), and "loup-cervier" as wolverene 
(Gulo luscus). 


Castor beaver 2580 7 li. 6s. 

Chevreuil .buck 295 

Chevreuils verts. .. .buck (green) 1875 

Boeufs Illinois bison 4 

Cerf s red deer 844 

Orignaux moose 7 

Chats raccoon 448 283. 

Loutres otter 167 3 li. 55. 

Loups-cerviers wolverene 8 7 li. 

Loups-de-bois wolf 4 35. 

Martres marten 247 3 li. 95. 

Grands ours bear 378 3 li. 125. 

Oursons cub 52) 

Ours moyens bear, half-grown. . . 8 J 

Pecans fisher 84 4 li. 95. 

Pichoux polecat 104 553. 

Reynards rouge red fox 6 553. 

Visons mink 5 103. 

Rat musques muskrat . 8 is. 6d. 


The above is one of many lists and schedules to be found 
in the reports of the trading-posts. Niagara and Frontenac 
are invariably coupled, and no separate mention is made of 
Toronto, which for trade purposes was regarded as a part 
of Niagara. Toronto was at first treated as a separate lease- 
hold. Later, it was made virtually a branch of Niagara. 
In 1729 we find the storekeeper at Niagara directed to send 
goods to Toronto as needed, the accounts to be included 
with those of his own post. 

While the beaver market continued good, and the animals 
themselves abundant, many other fur-bearing animals whose 
skins are now highly prized, appear to have been neglected 
by the trappers. The beaver was the great staple and object 
of trade, although at times the market so fell off that there 
was little if any profit in the business as carried on by the 
French. Of all our fur-bearing animals the beaver was the 
most widely distributed. Wherever the conditions of lake 
or pond, marsh or forest supplied him with the means for 
his natural habitat, there he was to be found. But the 
records, even at the very beginning of the French occupancy 
on the Niagara, indicate that at that time the beaver-hunting 
grounds were some distance west and north of the old 
Iroquois stronghold of Central and Western New York. In 
Joncaire's day the main supplies for the trade at Niagara 
appear to have been brought by Indians from the territory 
north of Lake Erie, the country around Lake Huron, and 
the remoter regions of the Lake Superior section. In 1739 
we find Beauharnois making strenuous efforts to increase 
the beaver trade by establishing posts among the Sioux. In 
that year, as at some earlier periods, war between tribes had 
interfered with the hunting; while other tribes, which 
gleaned some of the best beaver grounds, the Ottawas and 
Saulteux of Lake Huron, persistently refused to stay their 
loaded canoes at Fort Niagara, drawn to the English "by 
the brandy distributed without measure, and cheap goods." 

The attention paid to the beaver trade in the official cor- 
respondence of Canada, even in its relation to the lower 
lake posts during the years we are considering, would fill 
an ample volume. The larger aspects of that trade cannot 


be considered, here, the present aim being only to remind 
the reader that the quest of the beaver, more than anything 
else, brought Fort Niagara into existence. 

There were amusing difficulties, in those days, on the 
part of the storekeeper at Niagara, and his brother traders 
elsewhere, in trying to make the Indians understand the 
basis of exchange. They could never be made to recognize 
the distinction between the skins of the full-grown and half- 
grown animals. One exasperated report compares the con- 
fusion growing out of this classification, to the selling of 
an old robe de chambre, of which the sleeves and bottom 
of the gown are sold at one price, and the back and facings 
at another, "according as the parts of this robe were near 
the body." At a meeting of agents and merchants at Chateau 
St. Louis in Quebec in 1728, it was agreed that, beginning 
Jan. i, 1730, full-grown and half-grown beavers should be 
taken on a valuation of 3 li. 10 s. per pound, and "castor 
veulle" ( ? old beaver) at 48 s. per pound; a reduction from 
rates then prevailing. At this meeting was again heard the 
inevitable complaint that any effort to make the Indians 
recognize distinctions in beaver pelts made them carry their 
furs to Oswego. 

The famine of 1733 contributed to the diminution in the 
receipt for beaver, and by a fire in April of that year at 
Montreal, more than 2000 pounds were burned. 

The combined trade at Forts Niagara, Frontenac, and 
the head of the lake during the season of 1724-25 showed a 
profit of 2382 livres, 3 sols, 9 deniers about $476 on the 
present basis of values. A report of 1725 says: "Two 
hundred and four 'green' deer-skins and twenty-three pack- 
ets made up of various furs are left at Fort Frontenac or 
Niagara, which is a mere trifle, and shows how the English 
have taken nearly all the trade away from Niagara. They 
even come to trade within ten leagues of Frontenac. More- 
over the price of furs has so fallen that bear-skins have been 
sold this year for 473. apiece." It is difficult to fix the pur- 
chasing power of the sol (sou) at that day, but at its nom- 
inal value of a half -penny (English), it puts the price of a 
bearskin in 1725 at less than half a dollar. 


The falling off in trade in 1725, over 1724, is striking. 
Furs from the three posts above designated realized, in 
1724, 29,297 li. ios.; in 1725, only 9,151 li. 155. 6d. Against 
the total receipts of 38,449 li. 55. 6d. in the two years, there 
were charged 36,067 li. is. 9d. for expenses, leaving the 
balance of profit as above given. One item of expense was 
the salary of 600 livres paid to the storekeeper or agent at 
Niagara. In these figures and many others to like purport 
which are contained in the records, are to be found the real 
reason for building the stone Fort Niagara. The effect of 
that enterprise was immediate. In 1726, long before the 
new work was finished, we read: "The house at Niagara 
had a good effect on the beaver trade." Yet for that year, 
receipts from Niagara, Frontenac and "head of the lake" 
were only a little over 8,000 li., with expenses of over 13,000 
li. "This trade," says a note of Oct. 20, 1726, "is so poor 
only because the English were all the spring and part of 
the summer in the neighborhood of Niagara and gathered in 
all the best skins. There were also coureurs de bois from 
Montreal who spent the winter in trade at Fort Frontenac, 
who made a good deal of money there. Added to all that, 
the price of skins has greatly fallen." 


A not infrequent source of disturbance and annoyance 
at Fort Niagara was the passing of unlicensed voyageurs 
and traders, many of whom brought retinues of savages, 
their canoes fur-laden, and tauntingly defied the command- 
ant at the river's mouth. As early as 1727 we found record 
of men of this class from Louisiana, coming down Lake 
Erie on their way to Montreal, and of Canadians passing 
up the Niagara on their way to the Mississippi, making off 
with cargoes of goods for which they had not paid. Efforts 
were made at Niagara to arrest this class of free-booters. 
One Claude Chetiveau de Roussel, who came up the Mis- 
sissippi and through the Lakes without a passport, was 


arrested, put on board ship at Quebec, and sent to the Roche- 
fort prison. In 1732 peremptory orders were given to the 
commandant at Niagara, that the goods of all traders seek- 
ing to pass up or down the river without a permit, should 
be seized. 

As the great stone house neared completion and life at 
the mouth of the Niagara passed from the bustle of con- 
struction to the routine of a small garrison, Longueuil relin- 
quished command once more to Joncaire ; but in the latter's 
absence, in the season of 1727, a man named Pommeroy 
the documents speak of him merely as "Monsieur" was 
in command at the fort. The change was scarcely made 
when an incident occurred which illustrates a condition no 
doubt arising often in those days. One Desjardin, a resi- 
dent of Detroit, arrived at Niagara, "bound up" as the 
phrase is in modern lake traffic, with a canoe loaded with 
merchandise. When his pass was called for by Le Clerc, in 
charge of the trade at Niagara, he replied that a companion 
trader, Roquetaillade, who was a little ways behind with 
three more canoes, had the passes for all four. The next 
day Roquetaillade arrived with a permit for only three 
canoes. Desjardin, whose representations were seen to be 
fraudulent, had taken his goods across to the west side of 
the Niagara. Le Clerc deemed that the circumstances war- 
ranted him in seizing the cargo. With the younger Joncaire 
(Chabert junior) and other soldiers he crossed the river and 
confiscated the goods in the name of the King. The contents 
of the canoe would have stocked a country store in more 
modern times, and indicates the needs and whims of the 
far-off post of Detroit at this early day. There were goods 
for the Indians and goods for the French settlers and their 
wives: four packages of biscuit, six sacks of flour, a sack 
of gunflints, numerous guns, a bundle of leather, a large 
covered kettle and seven small kettles, 322 pounds of lead 
in five sacks, and other things, all of which were taken to 
the storehouse at Niagara. When the packages were opened 
there they revealed men's clothing, four pairs of children's 
shoes, a pair of women's slippers, boys' and men's shoes, 


fifteen small hatchets, a barrel of prunes and another of 
salt, a white blanket and two red ones, two pieces of the 
woolen fabric called calmande, with rolls of other weaves 
indicated as estamine au dauphine, and indienne or cotton 
print. Still another package contained wax, cotton wicks 
for candles, French thread ("fil de Rennes"), cotton cloth, 
shoemaker's thread, and blue cotton stockings for women 
perhaps the earliest indication we have of the bas bleues in 
the Lake region. The confiscation of such a cargo of fron- 
tier necessities was a serious loss to the unlucky Desjardin. 
His large bark canoe ("canoe d'e corse de huit places") was 
also confiscated. Such was the penalty for failure to comply 
with the prescribed regulations of trade. 

Perhaps worthy of note, in these minor annals of the 
frontier, are the names of the soldiers which with those of 
Le Clerc and Joncaire, Jr., are signed to the report of the 
seizure, under date Aug. 21, 1727. Here we meet, as it 
were, St. Maurice de la Gauchetiere, La Jeunesse de Bud- 
mond, L'Esperance de Port Neuf, Sans Peur de Deganne, 
St. Antoine de Dechaillon, St. Jean de Lignery, and Bon 
Courage de Deganne. Surely, with Youth, Hope, Fearless- 
ness and Good Courage for comrades in the wilderness, to 
say nothing of the saints, life at Fort Niagara in the grey 
old days could not have been wholly forlorn. 

On a day in the spring of 1735 two canoes, deeply laden, 
came skirting the northern shore of Lake Erie to the dis- 
charge; took the good channel through the little rapids, 
and were speeded along at a pace of some six to eight miles 
an hour, past the low shores over which Buffalo now 
extends. In the wider reaches of the river at the head of 
Grand Island, where the current slackens to some two miles, 
the red voyageurs plied again the paddles, and soon made 
the ancient landing at the margin of the river above the 
great cataract. Here, as they stepped ashore, the party was 
seen to consist of eight Indians and their employer, a half- 
breed trader, who though well-nigh as dark-skinned as his 
followers, spoke the French of Quebec with fluency. There 
was a quick agreement with the resident Senecas, who car- 


ried his packs and his canoes over the old portage path, 
down to the lower river, receiving for their labors one hun- 
dred beaver-skins. Reembarking, the little flotilla hastened 
out of the Niagara and on along the Ontario shore to 
Oswego fort, where the suspicious trader stayed on the 
strand with his canoes, sending the Indians into the fort 
to dispose of his furs. The sale accomplished, he made his 
way westward, once more stole his way past Fort Niagara, 
and after gaining again the upper river, hastened on, weary 
league on league, until he finally came again to his abiding- 
place at Missilimackinac. 

This was Joseph La France. His father was a French 
Canadian, his mother of the nation of Sauteurs, living at the 
falls of St. Mary, between Lakes Superior and Huron. Here 
he was born about 1707. His mother died' when he was 
five years old, and his father took him to Quebec, where 
he spent six months and learned French. Quebec had then, 
according to the subsequent testimony of La France, "4 or 
5,000 men in garrison, it being about the time of the Peace 
of Utrecht." Returning to his people at St. Mary's, he 
resided there until the death of his father in 1723, when 
the son, then sixteen, embarked upon the career of an inde- 
pendent trader. He took what furs and skins his father 
had left him, went down to Montreal by the Ottawa-river 
route, disposed of his goods and returned to acquire a new 
stock for barter. For the next ten years or so he seems to 
have taken his furs regularly to the French. In 1734 he 
adventured in new fields, going down the Wisconsin to the 
Mississippi, and down that stream to the mouth of the 
Missouri, returning by the same route. 

In 1735, stealing by night past the French settlement at 
Detroit, for fear of being stopped, he came down Lake Erie, 
on his way to try the English at Oswego. As on the Detroit, 
so on the Niagara, he appears to have avoided the French, 
whom he subsequently reported to have "a fort on the north 
side of the Fall of Niagara, between the Lakes Errie and 
Frontenac, about 3 Leagues within the Woods from the 
Fall, in which they keep 30 Soldiers, and have about as 


many more with them as Servants and 1 Assistants; these," 
he added, "have a small trade with the Indians for Meat, 
Ammunition and Arms." 57 Probably his dealings with the 
English became known to the French; for later, when he 
went again to Montreal with a cargo of furs, although he 
gave the Governor a present of marten-skins and 1000 
crowns, for a license to trade the following year, the Gov- 
ernor would neither give the license nor restore the money, 
charging La France with having sold brandy to the Indians, 
and threatening him with imprisonment. La France escaped 
from Montreal, and toilfully made his way up the Ottawa, 
reaching Lake Nipissing, after forty days of paddling and 
portaging. At Mackinac he gathered another stock of furs 
and set out once more to try his fortunes with the French ; 
but on the way to Montreal, in the Nipissing [French] 
River, he suddenly met the Governor's brother-in-law with 
nine canoes and thirty soldiers. They took all he had and 
arrested him as a runaway without a passport ; but he made 
his escape through the woods at night, and after weeks of 
hardship returned to St. Mary's, resolved to be done for 
ever with the French. Having lost all, he determined to go 
to the English at Hudson's Bay. His subsequent adventures 
belong to the history of the fur trade of the far north and 
west. His testimony, given in an enquiry regarding the 
operation of the Hudson's Bay Company, affords many use- 
ful glimpses of the conditions of the time. 

La France was the type of a class of men who at this 
period were a source of great trouble alike to the French 
and the English. The French especially, at Frontenac, at 
Niagara and Detroit, were exasperated by their disregard 
of the conge, their unlicensed brandy-selling to the Indians, 
and their journeys to the upstart British post at Oswego. 
As La France made his way past Fort Niagara, with canoes 
loaded to the gunwale with winter furs, the French of that 

57. La France was the first man of whom we have record, to cross from 
Lake Winnipeg to Hudson's Bay. The account of his presence on the Niagara 
is found in Vol. II of the "Report from the Committee appointed to enquire 
into the State and Condition of the Countries adjoining to Hudson's Bay, and 
of the Trade carried on there," etc., London, 1749- 


little garrison, if not indeed Joncaire himself, may have 
noted the passing, standing impotent to prevent it, or per- 
chance enraged by the yells and derisive cries of the defiant 
freebooters, no longer at pains to conceal themselves when 
once safely past the fort. 

There developed in England at this time a considerable 
outcry against the monopoly enjoyed by the Hudson's Bay 
Company ; and an ingenious advocacy of free trade in North 
American fur-gathering. The experiences of Joseph La 
France provided a fruitful text for those who, like the 
author of "An Account of the Countries Adjoining to Hud- 
son's Bay," etc., undertook to show their countrymen and 
their king how British trade might be extended in the Lake 
Erie region, and the French at the Lake Erie and Niagara 
posts utterly routed. Arthur Dobbs, who combined with 
the natural British hostility to the French, a bitterly critical 
attitude towards the Hudson's Bay Company, set forth at 
length in his book views which no doubt met the approval 
of many of the British public of his day. Curiously enough, 
one of his strongest arguments was based on a map-maker's 
blunder. On the large map which accompanies his work, 
the Great Lakes are shown, with "the great fall of Niagara" 
properly indicated at the outlet of "Conti or Errie Lake." 
The whole region of the Lakes is shown, as accurately on 
the whole as on many another map, up to that time ; but run- 
ning into Lake Erie, a few miles south of the present site of 
Buffalo, the unknown geographer has added a stream of 
considerable size, and named it "Conde River." Its real 
prototype, in the annals of earlier explorers, may have been 
the Cattaraugus or Eighteen-Mile Creek ; but here we have 
it, shown unduly large, as the only stream entering Lake 
Erie, its head-waters coming from vague mountains to the 

Contemplating this stream, and the exigencies of the fur 
trade in the region, Mr. Dobbs saw a great opportunity for 
the British, "by forming a Settlement on the River Conde, 
which is navigable into the Lake Errie, which is within a 
small Distance of our Colonies of Pennsylvania and Mary- 


land, and being above the great Fall of Niagara, and in the 
Neighborhood of the Iroquese, who are at present a Barrier 
against the French, and a sufficient Protection to our Fort 
and trading House at Oswega, in their Country upon the 
Lake Frontenac, who by that Trade have secured the 
Friendship of all the Nations around the Lakes of Huron 
and Errie. We should from thence, in a little Time, secure 
the Navigation of these great and fine Lakes, and passing 
to the southward, at the same time, from Hudson's Bay 
to the Upper Lake, and Lake of Hurons, we should cut off 
the Communication betwixt their Colonies of Canada and 
Mississippi, and secure the Inland Trade of all that vast 
Continent." Further on we have more details of the geog- 
raphy, real and imagined, of our region: "The Streight 
above Niagara at the Lake is about a League wide. From 
this to the River Conde is 20 Leagues South-west; this 
River runs from the S. E. and is navigable for 60 Leagues 
without any Cataracts or Falls; and the Natives say, that 
from it to a River which falls into the Ocean, is a Land Car- 
riage of only one League. This must be either the Sus- 
quehanna or Powtomack, which fall into the Bay of Chisa- 
peak." He further argues the wisdom of making a settle- 
ment on this wonderful river Conde, of building proper 
vessels there to navigate these lakes, so that "we might gain 
the whole Navigation and Inland Trade of Furs, etc., from 
the French, the Fall of Niagara being a sufficient Barrier 
betwixt us and the French of Canada," etc. It was alleged 
that the British Government might readily induce colonists 
from Switzerland and Germany "to strengthen our settle- 
ments upon this River and Lake Erie." Another sugges- 
tion was that disbanded British troops be sent on half pay 
to Lake Erie, where they would "make good our possessions, 
which would be a fine retreat to our Soldiers, who can't so 
easily, after being disbanded, bring themselves again to hard 
Labour, after being so long disused to it." The more Mr. 
Dobbs dwelt upon it the more important this particular pro- 
ject appeared. The French were to be cut off from com- 
munication with the Mississippi; Canada was to be "made 


insignificant for the French." The entire free trade of 
North America was to fall into the hands of the English. 
And finally, with a burst of sentiment which recalls the 
devout aspirations of the French missionaries, but is an 
anomaly in the plans of British traders, he exclaims : "How 
glorious would it be for us at the same time to civilize so 
many Nations, and improve so large and spacious a coun- 
try ! by communicating our Constitution and Liberties, both 
civil and religious, to such immense Numbers, whose Hap- 
piness and Pleasure would increase, at the same Time that 
an Increase of Wealth and Power would be added to 
Britain." 58 

Life at Fort Niagara never ceased to be dependant on the 
King's provision ships. If the annual shipment came early 
in the season, the garrison abated its chronic discontent in 
reasonable assurance that it could endure until spring on 
the inevitable flour and pork. But often the ships reached 
Quebec so late that the annual cargo of food and other neces- 
saries could not be sent through to Niagara until the follow- 
ing spring. In 1732 the Ruby, bringing subsistence for the 
forest garrisons, reached Quebec late in September. The 
utmost dispatch was made, but the supplies designed for 
Niagara got no further that fall than Frontenac. The 
winter of 1732-33 was a most severe one, the meager har- 
vests of the colony had been even smaller than usual, and 
there were privation and distress in the towns as well as at 
the lake posts. At Niagara they felt the additional burden 
of the smallpox, which this winter ran through the Iroquois 
villages, interfering with the usual hunting and trapping. 
In the summer of 1733, stimulated by the urgent tone of the 
official reports, the King's ship anchored off Quebec on 
July Qth. Even with this early arrival, it was September 
before the barrels of flour which she brought were safe in 
the storehouse at Niagara. In 1734, the Ruby arrived, 
August i6th; but in 1735 there was another failure to re- 
ceive anything; the Niagara provisions indeed reached 

58. See "An Account of the Countries adjoining to Hudson's Bay," etc., 
by Arthur Dobbs, London, 1744. 


Frontenac, and were loaded on a batteau ; but when the lum- 
bering, laden craft essayed the autumnal lake, a gale drove 
her ashore and the trip was abandoned with what result at 
the waiting garrison, may be imagined. There, short rations 
and bad more than once bore fruit in mutiny and desertion. 
Again the Government sought to atone for the costly delays 
of one season, with excess of zeal in the next; so that in 
1736 the King's ship was at Quebec on August 7th, and in 
the next summer the Jason arrived August 8th. And so it 
went, with varying uncertainty, the efficiency and well nigh 
the existence of Niagara depending largely on the modicum 
of attention it might receive from the Minister and his 
agents in France. 

Although the two barques which had been constructed at 
Frontenac in the winter of 1725 were only eight years old 
In 1733, one of them had then become unfit for service, so 
that there remained but one sailing vessel on Lake Ontario 
that season. The Intendan-t, Hocquart, sent four ship-car- 
penters to Frontenac to repair the other, but they found it 
so far gone that the best they could do was to take the iron- 
work from it and build a new vessel. This they did, at an 
expense of some 5,000 livres. The second boat, says a re- 
port of that summer, was greatly needed to carry goods to 

At Detroit, after the first few bitter years, conditions for 
self -maintenance were far better than they ever were at 
Niagara. The latter post never had the thrifty class of set- 
tlers about it, which very early began to provide flour and 
other produce not only for Detroit but for Mackinac and 
other upper-lake posts as well. 

So productive were those early grain fields about Detroit 
that in 1730 a memoralist of the Crown possibly De 
Noyan, though this particular memorial 59 is not signed 
seeking certain privileges in the western trade, unfolded a 
plan for supplying Niagara with flour. To further this 
project, the Government was asked to build one or two 

59. "Memoires concernant 1'etat-present du Canada en 1'an 1730," MS. 
copy in the Archives Office, Ottawa. 


light-draught vessels ("barques plates") to navigate be- 
tween the Niagara, Detroit and the upper lakes. The ad- 
vantage of such vessels, in case of Indian troubles, was 
pointed out : soldiers could be quickly transported. But the 
opportunities of trade loomed large in the eye of this specu- 
lator. At present, he wrote, it costs the voyageurs twenty 
livres freight per packet of furs, from Detroit to Montreal. 
With the desired sailing vessels the furs could be carried 
for ten or twelve livres per packet. Detroit would gather 
from its tributary country annually 1,000 to 1,200 packets; 
Mackinac and the upper posts could be counted on for 
2,000 more. The petitioner knew well the conditions of the 
fur trade. The voyageurs canoe freighters reached 
market by the Ottawa route. By the Niagara route he pro- 
posed to carry them at fifteen livres each. Thus on 1,000 
packets from Mackinac he counted on 15,000 livres, and on 
1,000 from Detroit, 10,000 more; and 25,000 livres freight 
receipts in one season should have appealed to a ministry 
accustomed to know only of outlay in connection with the 
lake posts. 

True, some expense must be incurred, to start the busi- 
ness. This plan contemplated the construction of a pali- 
saded warehouse above the Niagara fall, at a point where 
the barques could make easy and safe harbor. The portage 
road was to be extended and improved. There would have 
to be a clerk at the warehouse above the falls, and carts for 
carrying the peltries down to the lower river the landing 
of the old Magazin Royal where two flat-boats would be 
needed to convey them on down to the mouth of the river 
each summer in July or early in August. The desired 
barques, it was urged, could make at least three voyages, 
Niagara to Mackinac, between June and mid- August. On 
their first down trip they could bring away the furs col- 
lected in the neighborhood of Mackinac ; on the second 
and third trips, they would take the packets which by that 
time would have been brought in from the Lake Superior and 
more distant posts. The author of this memoir foresaw the 
prejudice which he would have to overcome among the 


traders; but if even half of them were afraid to risk Ni- 
agara, and chose to forward by canoe down the Ottawa 
route, he figured that even then the profit with the barques 
would be considerable. Each packet paid in freight twenty- 
five livres, Mackinac to Montreal, by the Niagara, where 
the Ontario barques would receive them. It was recom- 
mended that the Lake Erie craft be built "five or six leagues 
above the Niagara portage," and the promoter thought that 
with a master and four sailors for each vessel, business could 
begin, especially if soldiers from Fort Niagara and other 
posts could be called on for service when required. 

This was probably the first project for trade by sailing 
vessels from the Niagara to the upper lakes, since the disas- 
trous voyage of La Salle's Griffon, fifty years before. The 
Government did not lend its aid, and the plausible and elabo- 
rate memoir bore no immediate fruit. 

With the growth of trade and settlement at Detroit, and, 
from about 1730, the increasing substitution of the Niagara 
route over that of the Ottawa the grande riviere of the 
toilful old days traffic adjusted itself to a recognized tariff; 
so that, in the latter days of the period we are studying, if 
not indeed to the very end of the French dominion on the 
Lakes, transportation by the Niagara route was to be 
counted on for its fixed charges as much as any inland trans- 
portation by boat or rail is today ; but how different the 
items! The Detroit merchant of say 1730, returning home- 
ward from Montreal with goods, brought them by canoes or 
flat-boats to Fort Frontenac, there transferred them to the 
little barque that took its chances with all the winds of 
heaven, on the long traverse to Fort Niagara, some seventy 
leagues, as the old sailing-masters made it. Reloaded on 
batteaux, the freight was poled and pulled up the Niagara, 
to the foot of the portage. There, in the earlier years, each 
packet and cask was hoisted to the shoulders of an Indian or 
Canadian engage, for the hard climb up the levels and 
through the forest, some seven miles to the point of ree'm- 
barking above the cataract. Just when horses or oxen were 
first used on the portage road is uncertain. We know that 


the English had proposed to use them there, in 1720, and 
that the French did use them for a number of years. All 
this transportation was paid for by a percentage on the 
weight. The cost of outfit, too, was considerable. If the 
merchant owned his own canoe a canot de maitre, of six 
or eight places it cost him at least 500 francs. For the 
journey, he paid his six engages, who not only paddled the 
canoe but helped make the portage, 250 francs each. The 
needed food for the journey would include at least 100 
pounds of biscuit and twenty-five pounds of pork or bacon, 
per man. These with other necessaries brought the cost of 
equipment and maintenance to 2,260 francs. Such are the 
actual figures of one "voyage." 

It has been noted that the winter's supplies occasionally 
failed to reach the Niagara garrison. Sometimes the sup- 
plies which were there were bad. There was a serious 
state of affairs in 1738, owing to the wretched quality of 
flour furnished by the Government for the subsistence of 
the garrison. The supply was eked out by Canadian flour, 
of which there was great scarcity. The commandant, to 
head off, if possible, the desertions to which the soldiers at 
Niagara were always prone, if not indeed a mutiny of the 
whole garrison, sent several officers as an express to Mont- 
real. They reported that the soldiers were absolutely unable 
to live on their short rations of bad bread and salt meat, and 
begged that better supplies be sent. Some relief was gained 
from the Canadian harvest, and the spoiled French flour 
was shipped back from the lake posts to Montreal. 

In the summer of 1729, life at the little garrison had been 
disturbed by a mutiny among the soldiers, due probably to 
bad food and not enough of it. Whatever the cause, it made 
a most crucial season for Rigauville, commandant at the 
time. The prime mover in the uprising was one Charles 
Panis, and with him in rebellion were Laignille, La Joye, 
one Bernard "called Dupont," and so many others that 
the maintenance of any discipline at all was in jeopardy. 
The especial enmity of the mutineers was directed against 
the commandant and Ensign Ferriere. A Government sec- 


retary, Bernard, who was at Niagara at the time auditing 
the accounts of the store-keeper, was sent off post-haste to 
Montreal with a report of the affair. Beauharnois promptly 
sent back Captain Gauchetiere and Ensign Celoron, with a 
detachment of twenty trusty men to replace the rebels. The 
latter were taken to Montreal, where they were held under 
arrest, in irons. An affair followed which made more of a 
stir than the original mutiny. The uprising at Niagara had 
occurred on July 26th. It was not until after a long and dan- 
gerous delay that the offenders were brought to trial before 
a council of war, which in due time, pronounced sentence. 
Laignille and La Joye were condemned to be hanged and 
broken ["pendus et rompus"] ; while Dupont, a deserter, 
was merely to be hanged. Early in the morning of October 
i8th, before the executions were to take place, one of the 
condemned men cried out for help for his comrade, who 
feigned to be sick. The jailor's daughter ran to them, but 
scarcely had she opened the door of their dungeon, than the 
three criminals, who had broken off their irons, threw them- 
selves upon her, overcame the sentry, climbed over the pali- 
sades and ran away. The gallows and platform, which had 
been made ready for the executions, were surreptitiously 
taken down and carried off, by whom the authorities could 
not learn. As it was deemed necessary to make an example 
of someone, the jailor was removed from his post, though it 
was not shown that he was in any wise responsible for the 
escape. There is no record found that any of the seditious 
soldiers were punished. 

The official reports became very fretful over the matter. 
It was complained that the priests and women had meddled 
with the affair, creating sympathy for the prisoners. The 
whole system of procedure was criticised; there had been 
shown a complete ignorance of the laws and ordinances. 
"There is scarcely an officer in the country, and especially at 
Montreal, who knows how to conduct a procedure of this 
sort." "If the officers who composed the council of war had 
been instructed in the ordinance of July 26, 1668, the execu- 
tion of the criminals need not have been delayed more than 


twenty-four hours," etc. The Governor and Intendant took 
the occasion to renew with great urgency their frequent re- 
quest that more troops be sent to the colony. 

As for "Charles Panis," the instigator of the Niagara 
mutiny, he was put aboard the French vessel St. Antoine, 
and sent to Martinique in banishment. The governor there 
was requested to hold him forever as a slave, forbidding 
him ever to return to Canada or to go even to the English 
colonies. This culprit, whose name is written in the docu- 
ments as Charles Panis, may not unlikely have been Charles, 
a Panis or Pani, the name by which the French designated 
the Naudowasses or slave Indians. These people occupy a 
strange position in the history of North American tribes. 
In Joncaire's time, they are frequently found as slaves and 
menials not only among the Senecas and other warlike 
tribes, but among the French. Nor is it wholly improbable 
that such an Indian should have been the instigator of a 
mutiny among French soldiers, for more than once in the 
records may be found mention of Panis who served with the 
French troops. Several of them, in Pean's following, were 
killed at Fort Necessity in July, 1754. In 1747 a runaway 
Panis was shipped from Montreal to Martinique, there to 
be sold for the benefit of his owner. Facts like these, and 
the further fact that "Panis" is an unlikely French name, 
pretty clearly point out the character of the instigator of the 
mutiny at Fort Niagara. 60 

As for Laignille and his lawless associates, they no 
doubt soon found their way into the ranks of coureurs de 
bois and unlicensed traffickers with the Indians, not improb- 
ably allying themselves with some remote tribe, where they 
forever merged their identity with that of their savage asso- 
ciates. The wilderness lodges were harbingers of many a 
white outlaw in those days. 

To the period we are considering, belongs if it belongs 
to history at all the Niagara visit of the Sieur C. Le Beau, 

60. Details of the Fort Niagara mutiny are given in a report of Beau- 
harnois and Hocquart to the Minister, Oct. 23, 1730, and in other documents 
of the time. 


"avocat en parlement" romancer and adventurer at large. 
According to his own testimony, this young man, a native of 
Rochelle, went to Paris in 1729, and in the same year was 
drawn from his legal studies into a voyage to Canada. Ship- 
wrecked in the St. Lawrence, he arrived at Quebec, in sad 
plight, June 18, 1729. He found employment as a clerk in 
the fur business ("bureau du castor"), where he continued, 
making his home with the Recollect Fathers, for more than 
a year. He ran away from sober pursuits, in March, 1731, 
and took to the woods with two Indians. His many adven- 
tures are too numerous, and of too little consequence, to 
make even a summary of them worth while here. His nar- 
rative puts the time of his arrival at Niagara in June, 1731, 
and under sufficiently fantastic conditions. He was accom- 
panied, with other Indians, by his mistress, an Abenaki 
maiden, with whom he had exchanged clothes. He had 
resorted to this and other disguise to avoid arrest by the 
French as a deserter. A long story is made of his encounter 
with soldiers from Fort Niagara, and of his final sanctuary 
in Seneca villages. He says that letters were received from 
Montreal, by the commandant at Fort Niagara, ordering his 
arrest, if he appeared in the neighborhood. 

Needless to say, no mention of Le Beau is found in the 
official correspondence. His book has for the most part the 
air of truth ; he is precise with his dates, and in his account 
of Indian customs shows much accurate knowledge. Among 
the things that tell against him are his allusions to a Jesuit 
priest, Father Cirene, among the Mohawks ; but this name 
is not found in all the Relations of the order. His account 
of Niagara falls is dubious ; he says they are 600 feet high. 
This is La Hontan's figure of many years before. Le Beau 
has much to say of La Hontan and his misrepresentations, 
but the indications are that he accepted one of that gay offi- 
cer's wildest exaggerations, and that he may never have 
seen Niagara at all. He probably came to Canada and had 
some experience among the Indians ; and when he wrote his 
book, chose to so enlarge upon what he had really seen and 


experienced, still holding to a thread of fact, that the result 
has little interest as fiction, and no value whatever as his- 
tory. 61 


From the time of the establishment of Fort Niagara, 
Chabert Joncaire the elder was more and more an object of 
jealousy and hatred for the English. It was not without 
reason that they ascribed to him the success of the French 
on the Niagara. Now rumors began to fly. It was reported 
to the French King, on the word of Sieur de La Corne, that 
an Indian had promised the English that the house at Niag- 
ara should be razed, and that the Iroquois had been bribed 
by the Albany people to get rid of Joncaire. Louis ap- 
proved the order to send word to Joncaire himself of all 
this, and instructed him to learn the truth of these reports, 
and to prevent the accomplishment of English designs. As 
the English at this time were making lavish presents to the 
Indians, Joncaire's task was no light one. They even sent 
wampum peace belts to remote tribes to the Indians of 
Sault St. Louis, the Lake of the Two Mountains, to the 
Algonkins and Nepissings, inviting them all to remain quiet 
while the Iroquois were tearing down Fort Niagara. When 
the English overtures took any other form than substantial 
gifts, the Indians tired of them. As we have seen, to the 
English demand that the Iroquois should allow them to 
build a fort on the west side of the Niagara, opposite the 
French establishment, the savages replied that they did not 
wish to be troubled further about it ; that they did not regret 
having given their consent to the French ; and if the Eng- 

61. See the "Avantures du Sr. C. Le Beau, avocat en parlement, ou 
Voyage curieux et nouveau, parmi les Sauvages de 1'Amerique Septentrionale," 
etc., Amsterdam, 1738. So far as I am aware, this curious book has never 
been published in English. While the cause of history would scarcely be pro- 
moted by such a publication, yet it is singular in these days of reprinting any- 
thing that is old and curious, that no publisher has given us a new edition 
"with notes" of Le Beau. 


lish wished to build on the Niagara, they must settle it with 
"Onontio" ; as for them, they would not interfere ; 62 which, 
after all, was not bad diplomacy on the part of the savage. 

For the next few years Joncaire's chief employment was 
to inform his superior officers of English intrigues among 
the Iroquois, and to thwart them by his experience and in- 
fluence. He was among the Senecas on such a mission in 
1730, the Sieur de Rigauville being then in command at Fort 

It was at this time ( 1730) that he appears to have essayed 
to repeat, at Irondequoit bay, his achievements on the Ni- 
agara, but without a like success. I find no record of the 
enterprise in the French documents; the English report of 
it puts Joncaire in a ridiculous role. It was Lawrence 
Claessen who carried the news to Albany in the autumn of 
this year, that Joncaire with a following of French soldiers, 
had gone among the Senecas and told them "that he having 
disobliged his governor was Duck'd whip'd and banished as 
a malefactor, and said, that as he had been a prisoner among 
that Nation, and that then his life was in their hands, and as 
they then saved his life, he therefore deemed himself to be a 
coherent brother to that Nation, and therefore prayed that 
they might grant him toleration to build a trading house at 
a place called Tiederontequatt, at the side of the Kadarach- 
qua lake about ten Leagues from the Sinnekes Country, and 
is about middle way Oswego and Yagero [Niagara] 

and that he the said Jean Ceure entreated and beg'd 
the Sinnekes that they would grant him liberty to build the 
aforesaid Trading house at that place, in order that he 
might get his livelyhood by trading there and that he might 
keep some Soldiers to work for him there whom he prom- 
ised should not molest or use any hostility to his Brethren 
the Sinnekes," etc., etc. He was further said to be an emis- 
sary of the Foxes. 

Some correspondence ensued, on this extraordinary re- 
port by Claessen. The commissioners for Indian affairs at 
Albany made it the subject of a long letter to representa- 

62. Marquis de Beauharnois to the Minister, Sept. 25, 1726. 


tives of English interests among the Senecas, but even they 
saw the absurdity of Joncaire having a following of French 
soldiers if he had been banished from Canada. The part 
assigned to him in this affair by the Dutch interpreter is at 
utter variance with what we know of Joncaire's character 
and employment at this time. 

The more one studies the old records, with the purpose of 
gaining therefrom a true conception of Joncaire's character 
of discovering just what manner of man he was, and what 
is his true position among the men who made the history of 
his times, the less does he appear as a half-wild sojourner 
among the savages, the more is he seen to be a man of char- 
acter, of marked ability to control others, and of some social 
standing and culture, as those qualities went at the time. 
His own letters, written in a day when many, even men of 
affairs, knew not how to hold a pen, testify to the excellent 
quality of his mind. He had the reputation among his 
brother officers of being a braggart; but even those who 
charged him with it, admitted that his achievements, espe- 
cially in handling the Senecas, gave good warrant for boast- 

For forty years his relations with the missionaries, espe- 
cially of the order of Jesuits, were intimate. His association 
in his early years with Fathers Milet, Bruyas and Vaillant 
has been noted in the narrative. For Charlevoix he became 
host on the banks of the Niagara, and no doubt gave the 
priest many useful suggestions for his famous journey up 
the Lakes in 1721. It was Joncaire who told Charlevoix of 
the famous oil spring at Ganos, 63 now near Cuba, N. Y. 
"The place where we meet with it," wrote Charlevoix, "is 
called Ganos ; where an officer worthy of credit [Joncaire] 
assured me that he had seen a fountain, the water of which 
is like oil and has the taste of iron. He said also that a little 
further there is another fountain exactly like it, and that the 
savages make use of its waters to appease all manner of 

63. Ganos is derived from Genie or Gaienna, which in the Iroquois sig- 
nifies oil or liquid grease (Bruyas). This oil spring is in the town of Cuba, 
Allegany Co., N. Y. The other referred to is in Venango Co., Pa. 


pains." Joncaire may have been the first white man to visit 
these or other oil springs in the region, and so, possibly, to 
become the discoverer of petroleum. But others had heard 
of them, whether they visited them or not, long before Jon- 
caire's day. The "Relation" of the Jesuits for 1656-57, 
edited by Lejeune, says, in its description of the Iroquois 
country: "As one approaches nearer to the country of the 
Cats [i. e., the Eries], one finds heavy and thick water, 
which ignites like brandy, and boils up in bubbles of flame 
when fire is applied to it. It is moreover so oily that all our 
savages use it to anoint and grease their heads and their 
bodies." Father Chaumonot was among the Senecas in 
1656, as were, at various times, Fathers Fremin, Menart and 
Vaillant. These or still other missionaries may have been 
led to the oil springs more than half a century before Jon- 
caire ; to whom none the less belongs some credit for making 
them known. 

One of the few students of our history who have discov- 
ered in Joncaire anything more than a rough soldier and 
interpreter, erroneously calls him a "chevalier," and pictures 
him as especially zealous in behalf of the Roman Catholic 
religion. "To extend the dominion of France," says Wil- 
liam Dunlap, "and of the Roman religion, this accomplished 
French gentleman bade adieu to civilized life, and by long 
residence among the Senecas, adopting their mode of life, 
and gaining their confidence, he procured himself to be 
adopted into the tribe, and to be considered as a leader in 
their councils. His influence with the Onondagas was about 
as great as with his own tribe. By introducing and support- 
ing the priests, and other missionaries, employed by the 
Jesuits and instructed by the Governor ; by sending intelli- 
gence to Montreal or Quebec, by these spies ; by appearing 
at all treaty councils, and exerting his natural and acquired 
eloquence it is necessary to say, he was master of their 
language he incessantly thwarted in a great measure the 
wishes of the English, and particularly set himself in oppo- 
sition to the Government of New York. But the views of 


Burnet, in regard to the direct trade, backed by the presents 
displayed to the savages, met their approbation in despite of 
Joncaire and the Jesuits." Dunlap adds that the conduct of 
Joncaire is only paralleled by that of the Jesuit Ralle 
[Rasle] . "It is not improbable," he continues, "that Joncaire 
as well as Ralle, was of the Society of Jesuits, for it is the 
policy of this insidious combination that its members shall 
appear as laymen, in many instances, rather than as ecclesi- 
astics." 64 

Obviously hostile, with the old-time prejudice of his kind, 
to the work of the Catholic missionaries, Dunlap neverthe- 
less does a certain justice to Joncaire, in bringing out this 
phase of his activities. There is no warrant found in the 
documents for the supposition that Joncaire was a member 
of the Society of Jesus; many things indicate that he was 
not. Nor was he, probably, above the average standard of 
morality among the French soldiers of his day a type, as 
we well know, not conspicuous either for piety or purity. 
But it remains true that Joncaire's services among the 
Senecas were calculated to help on the efforts of the mis- 
sionaries, who found him an invaluable ally against the un- 
godly English. 

There exists, of date 1725, a memoir "by a member of the 
Congregation of St. Lazare," in which various measures are 
urged to prevent the English from working injury to the 
colony of Canada and the cause of true religion among the 
Indians. The author suggests that the Recollects (who were 
Franciscans), should be allowed to remain at any posts 
where they then were, in capacity of missionaries or chap- 
lains; and that in these capacities they be sent to posts 
which should thereafter be established, where regular paro- 
chial organization could not be effected; but that the 
Jesuits, who preferred to be missionaries among the Indians 
rather than chaplains at the French posts, might nevertheless 
be established at Niagara, "in order that from this post they 

64. "History of the New Netherlands," etc., by William Dunlap (N. Y., 
1839), Vol. I, pp. 286, 287. 


may carry on their mission among the Iroquois. It is highly 
important to the Colony to establish and to maintain these 
missions in the interests of France. To the end that the 
Jesuits may find means to hold the Iroquois nations it is 
desirable to give to them a tract of land near Niagara where 
they may build a house and make an establishment." 

This plea for a Jesuit establishment at Niagara, which, 
plausibly, was made with the knowledge and endorsal of 
Joncaire, was not granted ; but when the new post was gar- 
risoned, it is probable that the first priest who as chaplain 
accompanied troops thither, was a Jesuit. The traditions of 
the post already associated it with that order. At least three 
Jesuits had been at the short-lived Fort Denonville on the 
same spot Fathers Enjalran, Lamberville and Milet. No 
priest is mentioned among the soldiers who brought new life 
and stir to the old plateau in 1726. The first clergyman of 
whom we find record at Fort Niagara was Father Emmanuel 
Crespel, also a Jesuit. He was stationed there for about 
three years from 1729, interrupting his ministrations there 
with a short sojourn at Detroit where a mission of his order 
had been established. 

Of Fort Niagara at this time he says : "I found the place 
very agreeable; hunting and fishing were very productive; 
the woods in their greatest beauty, and full of walnut and 
chestnut trees, oaks, elms and some others, far superior to 
any we see in France. The fever," he continues, "soon 
destroyed the pleasures we began to find, and much incom- 
moded us, until the beginning of autumn, which season dis- 
pelled the unwholesome air. We passed the winter very 
quietly, and would have passed it very agreeably, if the ves- 
sel which was to have brought us refreshments had not en- 
countered a storm on the lake, and been obliged to put back 
to Frontenac, which laid us under the necessity of drinking 
nothing but water. As the winter advanced she dared not 
proceed, and we did not receive our stores until May." 
Father Crespel records that while at Niagara he learned the 
Iroquois probably the Seneca and Ottawa languages well 


enough to converse with the Indians. "This enabled me," 
he writes, "to enjoy their company when I took a walk in 
the environs of the post." 6B The ability to talk with Indians 
afterward saved his life. When his three years of residence 
at Niagara expired, he was relieved, according to the custom 
of his order, and he passed a season in the convent at Quebec. 
While he was, no doubt, succeeded at Niagara by another 
chaplain, it is not until some years later that we find in the 
archives any mention of a priest at that post. 

In 1731 Joncaire entered upon a new service, which, 
apparently, was to be his chief employment for the few re- 
maining years of his life. He was now past sixty years. 
Grown gray in the King's service, seasoned by a lifetime of 
exposure and arduous wilderness experience, wise in the 
ways of the Indian, and understanding the intrigues and 
ambitions of the English, he was preeminently a man to be 
entrusted with an important mission. It is not to be inferred, 
however, that his lifetime of service on the outposts had cut 
him off from the official, the military or the domestic asso- 
ciations of Quebec and Montreal. The latter town, then of 
not above 5,000 inhabitants, was his home ; and there, from 
1707 to 1723, Madame de Joncaire bore to him, as we have 
already noted*, ten children, the eldest of whom, Philippe 
Thomas, and his younger brother Daniel, known respectively 
as Chabert the younger and Clausonne, are both to bear a 
part in the history of the Niagara. In 1731, Chabert, Jr., 
then about twenty-four years old, accompanied his father 
to the Senecas' villages, and probably to Niagara. He had 
even then "resided a long time among those Indians" and 
was "thoroughly conversant with their language." But now 
he was to be intrusted with new responsibilities ; he was to 
assume the role which his father had filled for so many 

65. "Voiages du R. P. Emmanuel Crespel, dans le Canada et son naufrage 
en revenant en France. Mis au jour par le Sr. Louis Crespel, son Frere. A 
Francfort sur le Meyn, 1742." There are numerous editions: ist German, 
Frankfort and Leipsig, 1751; zd French, Frankfort, 1752; Amsterdam, 1757; 
an English edition, 1797, etc., with numerous variations in title. The rare 
first edition was reprinted at Quebec in 1884. 


years among these vacillating and uncertain people. Re- 
porting on these arrangements to the French Minister, de 
Maurepas, in October, 1731, Beauharnois wrote: "There is 
reason to believe that Sieur de Joncaire's presence among 
the Iroquois has been a check on them as regards the Eng- 
lish, and that by keeping a person of some influence con- 
stantly among them, we shall succeed in entirely breaking up 
the secret intrigues they have together. On the other hand, 
the Iroquois will be more circumspect in their proceedings, 
and less liable to fall into the snares of the English, when 
they have some one convenient to consult with, and in whom 
they will have confidence. Sieur de Joncaire's son is well 
adapted for that mission." 

The story of this son, and his share in Niagara history, 
belong for the most part to a later period than we are now 
considering. It may be noted here, however, that it was 
Chabert the younger who, in the winter of 1734, came from 
Montreal to Fort Niagara on snowshoes, bringing letters 
from the Governor. He returned through the heart of New 
York State, visiting the Iroquois villages en route. He was 
then in his twenty-seventh year ; active, hardy, speaking the 
Seneca and probably other dialects of the Iroquois as well 
as his native French, "wise and full of ardor for the ser- 
vice." Later in this year he was serving in the company 
commanded by Desnoyelles, and from this time on his 
career becomes more and more a part of Niagara history. 

It is plain that no credence was given by Beauharnois to 
the reports reflecting on the integrity of the elder Joncaire's 
character. That he was thoroughly loyal to the French 
might also be inferred from the responsibility of his new 
mission. He was entrusted with the removal to a new place 
of residence of the Chaouanons. 

These people are better known as the Shawanese. To 
enter fully into their history here would be to travel afar 
from our especial theme. It will suffice to state that they 
were of southern origin. About 1698, three or four score 
families of them, with the consent of the Governor of Penn- 


sylvania, removed from Carolina and established themselves 
on the Susquehanna, at Conestoga. Others followed, so that 
by 1732, when the number of Indian righting men in Penn- 
sylvania was estimated at about 700, one half of them were 
Shawanese immigrants. About the year 1724 the Delaware 
Indians, in quest of better hunting-grounds, removed from 
their old seats on the Delaware and Susquehanna rivers, to 
the lower Allegheny, upper Ohio and its branches, and from 
1728 the Shawanese gradually followed them. 

The friendship of these Ohio Delawares and Shawanese 
became an object of rivalry for the British and French; the 
interests of the latter among them were now confided to 
Joncaire. The vanguard of the Shawanese migrants appears 
to have gained the upper Ohio as early as 1724, for in that 
year we find that Vaudreuil had taken measures to weld 
them to the French. An interpreter, Cavelier, had been sent 
among them, and had even induced four of their chiefs to go 
with him to Montreal, where they received the customary 
assurances of French friendship. At this date, the Ohio 
Shawanese numbered over 700, but their attachment to the 
English appears to have been even greater than to the French. 
They evidently paid some respect to the authority of the 
French in the Ohio valley, for on this Montreal visit they 
asked if the French Governor "would receive them, and 
where he would wish to locate them." Beauharnois replied 
that he would "leave them entirely at liberty to select, them- 
selves, a country where they might live conveniently and 
within the sound of their Father's voice" i. e., within 
French influence; "that they might report, the next year, 
the place they will have chosen, and he should see if it were 
suitable for them." 

In the spring of 1732 Joncaire reported to the Governor 
that these Indians were settled in villages ( ( en milage") 
"on the other side of the beautiful river of Oyo, six leagues 
below the River Atigue. The "Beautiful river," or Ohio, 
at that time designated the present Ohio and the Allegheny 
to its source. The Atigue 66 was the Riviere au Boeuf, now 

66. See Bellin's "Carte de la Louisiana." 


known as Le Boeuf creek or Venango river. This seat of 
the Shawanese, therefore, was a few miles below the present 
city of Franklin, Pa. To them Joncaire was remanded with 
gifts and instructions to keep English traders away, and to 
do all possible to cement their friendship with the French. 

In this connection may be noted a curious statement made 
by an old Seneca chief, whose name is written by the French 
as Oninquoinonte. Being with Joncaire at Montreal in 1732, 
the Seneca made a speech to the Governor in which he said : 
"You know, my father, it is I who made it easy to build the 
stone house at Niagara, my abode having always been there. 
Since I cannot conquer my love for strong drink, I surrender 
that place and establish myself in another place, at the port- 
age of the Le Boeuf river, which was and is the rendezvous 
of the Chaouanons." He added with unwonted ardor, that 
the French were masters of all this region, and he would 
die sooner than not sustain them in their work of settling the 

A fair degree of success appears to have rewarded Jon- 
caire's efforts. He is hereafter spoken of as commandant 
among the Shawanese, and his residence for a considerable 
part of each year was in the beautiful valley that stretches 
between long-sloping hills below the junction of the Venango 
and the Allegheny. Already a historic region, it was des- 
tined in a few years to be the scene of important events 
which should link its story yet more closely with that of the 
Niagara. Here at the junction of the rivers, Washington is 
to camp on his way to demand that the French withdraw 
from the region. Here France is soon to stretch her chain 
of forest-buried forts, that rope of sand on which she vainly 
relied for the control of a continent. 

The disposition to migrate further west, shown by sev- 
eral of the Indian tribes at this period, gave a remarkable 
turn to the policies of the rival white nations on the con- 
tinent. It was an early wave in the movement of an in- 
evitable flood ; though there is little in the old records to in- 
dicate that either the English or French saw very far into 
the future, or gave much heed to anything save relations 


of immediate profit and advantage. The migrations of the 
Shawanese covered many years, and included many re- 
moves. In 1736 Joncaire found his villages on the Alle- 
gheny restless with the prospect of a new settlement in the 
vicinity of Detroit, on lands ranged over by their friends 
the Hurons. The next year, the sale by the Senecas and 
Cayugas of certain lands on the Susquehanna, near where 
some of the Shawanese had continued to live, started a new 
migration, and fostered bitterness towards the English. 
From this time on for many years for many years indeed 
after the fall of New France we find traces of the Shaw- 
anese at many points in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys; 
and not until the French were finally forced out did the 
rivalry cease for the friendship of these shifty and uncer- 
tain savages ; not, obviously, for the sake of that friendship, 
but because the rival Powers deemed it essential for their 
control of the inland highways and of the fur trade. 

Regarding the proposed settlement at Detroit, the Shaw- 
anese pledged themselves to Joncaire to go to Montreal in 
the spring of 1737, "to hear the Marquis de Beauharnois 
discourse on their migration." Louis XV., whose phrase 
has just been quoted, 67 thought that the proposed settlement 
"is very desirable, so as to protect the fidelity of these In- 
dians against the insinuations of the English. But the de- 
lay they interpose to that movement induces His Majesty to 
apprehend that the Marquis de Beauharnois will meet with 
more difficulties than he had anticipated, and that the Eng- 
lish, with whom His Majesty is informed they trade, had 
made sufficient progress among them to dissuade them 

And the main instrument on whom both Governor and 
King relied was the veteran Joncaire. But the time of his 
achievements was at an end. On June 29, 1739, he died at 
Niagara. A band of Shawanese, conducted by Douville de 
la Saussaye, reached Montreal on July 2ist following, and 
carried the news of the death of the veteran. As the dis- 

67. Dispatches, Versailles, May 10, 1737. 


patches speak of the receipt at Montreal of news of his death, 
and do not state that his body was carried there, the con- 
clusion is at least plausible that he was buried somewhere at 

On Sept. 12, 1740, the Five Nations sent a deputation to 
Montreal, where they addressed M. de Beaucourt, the Gov- 
ernor, with much ceremony and the presentation of many 
wampum belts. "Father," said their spokesman, extending 
a large belt, "you see our ceremony ; we come to bewail your 
dead, our deceased son, Monsieur de Joncaire ; with this belt 
we cover his body so that nothing may damage it. ... 
The misfortune which has overtaken us has deprived us of 
light; by this belt [giving a small white one] I put the 
clouds aside to the right and to the left, and replace the sun 
in its meridian. Father," the orator continued, holding out 
another string of wampum, "by this belt I again kindle the 
fire which had gone out through our son's death" ; then, by 
way of condolence, with still another belt : "We know that 
pain and sorrow disturb the heart, and cause bile; by this 
belt, we give you a medicine which will cleanse your heart, 
and cheer you up." Eight days later, the Governor, who 
had been detained at Quebec, sent reply to the warriors: 
"You had cause to mourn for your son Joncaire, and to 
cover his body; you have experienced a great loss, for he 
loved you much. I regret him like you." The marquis 
promised to send back with them Joncaire's son, already 
well known to them. "He will fill, near you, the same place 
as your late son. Listen attentively to whatever he will say 
to you from me." And thenceforth, in the affections of the 
Senecas of Western New York, the son is .to reign in his 
father's stead. The story of Chabert de Joncaire the elder 
is ended. 

NOTE. Much of the data in the foregoing chapters, especially chapters 
XI. and XII., is drawn from the unprinted " Correspondence Generale," and 
accompanying memoires, special reports and letters preserved in the Archives 
at Paris, and in part, by means of copies, in the Archives at Ottawa. 

ERRATUM. Page 8s, for " Le Barre," read " La Barre." 








There are brought together in the following list, from 
many sources, both manuscript and printed, such facts as I 
have gleaned relating to persons in captivity at Fort Niag- 
ara, or those who, having been captives, were there on their 
way to freedom ; especially those unhappy American pion- 
eers who were brought captive to the fort by Indians. 

The subject has before now engaged my attention. In 
certain studies 1 I have given with more or less of detail the 
adventures of several of these prisoners. Researches among 
the documents known as the Haldimand and Bouquet 
papers, preserved in the British Museum (verified copies in 
the Archives at Ottawa), have served to stimulate my in- 
terest in this phase of our border history. Especially in 
the letters and official reports of British officers stationed 
at Fort Niagara during the American Revolution, are to be 
found many references to American prisoners, brought to 
that old stronghold by Indian captors. With a view to set- 
ting in order as many facts as possible relating to the early 
history of Fort Niagara, I made note of the names of these 
captives, as they were met with in my reading, and in brief 
form, of the circumstances of their captivity. As the list 
grew, my interest in it grew, for it was seen to represent a 

i. "With Bolton at Fort Niagara," and "What Befel David Ogden," in 
"Old Trails on the Niagara Frontier," 2nd ed., Cleveland, 1903. 



phase of the Revolutionary warfare which was particularly 
marked in the Niagara region, but which has not heretofore 
been made the subject of particular study. Thus I was led 
to enlarge the scope of my list, so that it should include all 
prisoners of whom I could learn, who were held at Fort 
Niagara by the French or the British, prior to the session of 
the fort to the Americans in 1796. While this adds a few 
notable names, and makes the review of this phase of our 
border history more nearly complete, it still leaves the list 
distinctively of the Revolutionary period. 

In the days when the French controlled the region of the 
Lakes, the prisoners brought to Fort Niagara were of two 

There were the men and women, and still oftener the 
children, who had been carried off from the frontier settle- 
ments of Pennsylvania and Virginia by the Indians. These 
captivities were a phase of the border strife which shifted 
as the frontier shifted, and in which the Indian marauders 
were for two or three decades in the French interest, then 
for forty years in league with the British. Under the 
French, the Indians carried their prisoners into the country 
north of the Ohio, sometimes turning them over to the 
officers at Detroit or Niagara ; but more often adopting 
them, especially if the prisoners were young. Of this class 
was Mary Jemison, the "White Woman of the Genesee." 
Undoubtedly, in far more cases than we have record of, 
the identity of prisoners who were the descendants of 
Puritan or Dutch or Quaker ancestors, or the Scotch-Irish 
frontiersmen of Pennsylvania, was forever lost in the vil- 
lages of the Senecas, the Delawares, and the Shawanese; 
and blood which might have claimed worthy ties in the 
civilized world, blended with that of the wilderness savage. 
The half-breed products of these unions, as in the case of 
Mary Jemison's children and others notorious in border 
annals, usually combined the primitive savagery of the 
Indian with the acme of white man's evil. The union of 
French and Indian blood not, indeed, a sequel of captiv- 
ity, but of a lawless choice was for many years so com- 


mon as to produce a well-marked variety of the human 
species; some of the individuals of which, as in the Mon- 
teur family, attained a reputation for adroit and versatile 
fiendishness rarely shown by the nobler full-blooded sav- 

A wholly different class of captives, during the French 
period, were traders in the English interest, who ventured 
into the territory claimed by the French, and were made 
prisoners. The first of this class of whom we have record 
was Major Patrick McGregory and his Dutch comrade in 
misfortune, Johannes Rooseboom, whose trading career on 
the Lakes was cut short by the vigilance of La Durantaye, 
DuLhut (Duluth) and Tonty. With their Dutch and 
English followers, and a horde of savages, they were 
brought down Lake Erie, in 1687; they were prisoners at 
the fort which Denonville built that year on the site years 
after to be marked by Fort Niagara. It is not unlikely 
that in an earlier day some unruly follower of La Salle 
had been held prisoner here, for theft or attempted deser- 
tion; but so far as records show McGregory and Roose- 
boom are the first white prisoners on the banks of the 

There is a long lapse of time the dark decades on the 
Niagara during which we can make chronicle of no cap- 
tivities. But towards the end of the French period we find 
once more English traders from the colonies being ap- 
prehended and brought hither by the French: John Peter 
Sailing the Virginian in 1743 or '44; Luke Irwin and 
Thomas Bourke, Pennsylvania adventurers, in 1751. 
When, in 1753, Major George Washington, Christopher 
Gist and their escort reached the French post at Venango, 
one of their most earnest enquiries was, "By what author- 
ity several English subjects had been made prisoners?" 
Capt. Reparti replied, that he "had orders to make prison- 
ers of any who attempt to trade upon these waters." Wash- 
ington made special inquiry for John Trotter and James 
McClochlan, traders who had been apprehended by the 
French and sent to Canada, undoubtedly by way of Fort 


Niagara, though I find no record of their detention at that 

It was not to be long, however, before the tables were 
fairly turned. Capt. Francois Pouchot, 2 the last French 
defender of Fort Niagara, was himself the first French 
prisoner of the British at that post; and with him, on the 
fateful 25th of July, 1759, were surrendered to the British 
486 men (607 according to British accounts) and ten 
officers, besides women and children. 

The next year, the last French defender of Detroit, the 
adventurous Capt. Belletre, who in his time had taken 
captive many English and Dutch colonists and traders, 
was brought with his garrison, prisoners of war to Fort 
Niagara, by the equally adventurous Rogers the Ranger. 
The remnants of various French garrisons west and south- 
west passed through Fort Niagara, in the hands of the 
British; and one long chapter in the history of the old 
hawk's nest" was ended. 3 

2. This is, so far as the writer knows, the first publication of Captain 
Pouchot's given name. The information is had from the register of the 
parish of St. Hugues, at Grenoble, France, wherein is recorded: "Le neufvi&me 
avril 1712, j'ay baptists Francois Pouchot, ne le meme jour," etc. 

3. There are loose stories the authors of which usually refer to "well- 
founded tradition" to the effect that political prisoners and persons of dis- 
tinction whom the Court of France desired to be rid of, were sent to Fort Niag- 
ara and incarcerated in its dungeons. Writers of guide-books and newspaper 
sketches have been attracted by this phase of Fort Niagara captivities, but uni- 
formly neglect to show any basis for their "well-founded tradition." Some 
years ago Mr. L. B. Proctor of Albany made a notable contribution to this class 
of literature with a paper published in the Albany Argus (April 12, 1891), and 
subsequently in pamphlet form, entitled "The American Bastile," wherein he 
gave certain alleged incidents in the history of Fort Niagara, under the com- 
mand of one Col. De la Vega, "an elegant, accomplished, brave but dissolute 
officer," who, in order to maintain a guilty alliance with "a beautiful girl, the 
daughter of the second in command under De la Vega," wickedly made way 
with his wife, who had been so rash as to accompany her spouse to Fort Niagara. 
The secret dungeons of the place are described, with their "instruments for 
execution, torture and secret murder," and walls covered with names "famous in 
history." "Lady De la Vega" is supposed to have perished in one of these 
dungeons, where years after the Americans are said to have found the skeleton, 
of a woman chained to the wall, with a costly bracelet on its wrist, about its 
neck "a string of elegant gold beads, to which a rich embossed cross was at- 
tached," rings on its fingers and, perhaps, bells on its toes. "The initials on 
the ring and bracelet indicate that it was the remains of the vife of Col. De la 
Vega," etc. This tragic affair would have greater significance to the student of 
Niagara history if it could be shown that Niagara ever had a commander named 
De la Vega. The poisoned well and other accessories are not omitted; so that 
Fort Niagara seems to belong in the same lurid list as the Lion's Mouth of 
Venice or the torture-chambers of the Inquisition, as depicted by old romancers. 
The sober history of Fort Niagara holds tragedy enough; there is no need of 
tricking it out with invention and cheap romance. While it is possible that 
political prisoners were sent from France to be held captive at Fort Niagara, I 
have yet to find the first trace of evidence that any were ever sent, or that the 
post was even thought of for such a purpose. 


In the years immediately following the overthrow of 
French power, the gradually increasing hatred of the In- 
dian for the British culminated in the conspiracy of 
Pontiac. To indicate the causes of this hatred would be 
to enter upon a theme long since reviewed by able writers ; 
nor is it wholly germane to the present inquiry. Sir Jeffrey 
Amherst's contempt for the Indian is vividly set forth in 
the pages of Parkman's "Pontiac." At Fort Niagara, as 
elsewhere, the British officers withheld the customary pres- 
ents from the Indians, and pursued such a tactless, such a 
harsh and aggravating course that the red man's resort to 
tomahawk and scalping-knife was but a natural sequence. 
There had been only a brief cessation of the warfare, 
especially against the frontiers of Pennsylvania. During 
the later years of French control on the Niagara and the 
Ohio, more captives appear to have been taken, in the 
Pennsylvania valleys, than in any other quarter exposed to 
Indian raids. In 1756, when Col. John Armstrong de- 
stroyed the Indian town of Kittanning, he found there a 
dozen or more English prisoners, most of whom, but for his 
rescue, would probably have been carried to Canada by the 
Niagara route. 

At Lancaster, Pa., Aug. 19, 1762, the Six Nations de- 
livered up fifteen prisoners. Under the treaty of 1763 
hundreds of captives were restored, and during the winter 
of 1764 there was an abatement of hostilities on the part of 
the Indians, though there never was a time when the white 
settlers on the then frontiers did not find the Indians hos- 
tile. The red man's jealousy of the encroaching colonist 
was not lessened by the fact that the Treaty of Paris ex- 
tended England's claim of jurisdiction into vast regions 
where before she had not dared assert herself. But Col. 
Bouquet's expedition in 1764 awed the tribes among whom 
he penetrated, and they generally complied with his com- 
mand to free their prisoners. At the forks of the Muskin- 
gum, in October, the Delaware chiefs delivered up eighteen 
white prisoners, and promised to release eighty-three more 
then in their villages. On November gth, 206 captive men, 


women and children, were delivered up to him by the Sen- 
ecas and Delawares. A few days later, the Shawanese, 
who had held out to the last, delivered up a number of 
prisoners, and in the following spring carried the rest, 
about a hundred in all, to Fort Pitt. A most touching 
chapter in border history is the account of the home-coming 
of these captives, most of whom had been taken from 
Pennsylvania and Virginia settlements. 4 This treaty 
brought a large number of captive children to Carlisle and 
Philadelphia, to be recognized and claimed by parents. 

Not even at this time did the Indians deliver up all their 
captives. The Shawanese in particular were defiant in at- 
titude and were known to retain in their villages many 
white men, women and children. 

The decade from 1764 to 1774 was a comparatively 
quiet period on the frontiers. But in the latter year the 
massacres of Lord Dunmore's war renewed the Indian 
raids ; and there was no respite until the close of the Revo- 
lution. Throughout all this period, increasingly from year 
to year, the name Niagara gained a more and more direful 
significance. On the Ohio, on the Kanawha, throughout 
all the deep valleys of the Pennsylvania streams where set- 
tlement had pushed its way, Fort Niagara was known as 
the spot where British and Indian plotted the destruction 
of the American frontiers, the base whence the war-parties 
came, and the retreat to which they returned with scalps 
and prisoners. In June, 1780, the inhabitants of Northum- 
berland Co., Pennsylvania, on the West Branch of the 
Susquehanna, addressed an impassioned memorial to the 
executive committee of the State, asking that troops be 
sent for their protection. After stating where their pres- 
ent small force was posted, and reciting the woes they had 
suffered from incursions of the enemy, they said: "Berks, 
Lancaster and Cumberland Countys must be involved in 
the calamities which we at present suffer. Nor is this all. 
This would be a new Niagara to the Enemy. Hither their 

4. See Rupp's "Early History of Western Pennsylvania," Pittsburg, 1844. 


Friends would flock, and from hence their predatory war 
will be prosecuted." 

Prior to the English conquest in 1759, as already stated, 
most of the prisoners who were brought to Fort Niagara 
were English traders who had fallen into the hands of the 
French; or former captives of the Indians, usually taken 
on the Ohio, who, after being detained at the villages on the 
Miami, were ultimately turned over to the French at De- 
troit, from which post they were sent down Lake Erie to 
Fort Niagara. Thus most of the captives in the French 
period came to Fort Niagara from the westward. Towards 
the end of the French regime, some were sent thither from 
Fort Duquesne, by way of Presqu' Isle. 

An interesting, glimpse of the prisoners at Fort Niagara 
in its last days under the French is afforded by the following 
extract from the news columns of the New York Mercury 
of Monday, Aug. 20, 1759 : 

"There were several English prisoners found in the fort 
at Niagara when it surrendered, among which were John 
Peter, who was taken the 2$d of May last in company with 
one Robinson and Bell (who were left among the Indians) 
that belonged to Capt. Bullet's company of Virginians, on 
their way to Fort Legonier from Ray's Town. Margaret 
Painter, taken eighteen months since in Pennsylvania Gov- 
ernment. Edward Hoskins, taken ten years since on the 
borders of New England. Nathaniel Sullivan 1 , taken at 
Potowmack in Virginia, the 25th September last. Isabel 
Stockton, a Dutch girl, taken Oct. i, 1757, at Winchester. 
Christopher and Michael Franks, brothers, born at Tulpe- 
hoken, Co. of Bucks, in Pennsylvania. John McDaniel, 
taken the I2th of July, 1758, near Halifax in Nova Scotia. 
Molly Heysham, taken four years since at the Blue Moun- 
tains. Also two or three young children, names unknown, 
whose parents were killed by the Indians when taken. Many 
of the above prisoners have been at Niagara one or two 
years past, and had their liberty to walk about, as the cap- 
tives made to the southward must pass that way in their 
Rout to Canada." Hoskins' captivity of ten years is the 


longest of which we find mention in connection with Fort 
Niagara, though probably a large part of that time was 
passed with the Indians. Usually, as the following tale of 
captivities repeatedly shows, when the sojourn among the 
Indians ran into the years it was because the captive was 
no longer regarded as a captive, but as one with his adoptive 

Still another glimpse of the romance and the domestic 
complications which sometimes were the sequel of a cap- 
tivity, is afforded by the following extract from the Boston 
Gazette of Sept. 10, 1759. The woman in question may have 
been one of those whose name appears in our list : 

"A private letter from Albany informs us that when the 
French prisoners lately taken at Niagara arrived at that city, 
in their way down hither, an English woman, wife to one of 
the soldiers that was in Gen. Braddock's army, having been 
taken prisoner by the French at the time of the defeat of 
Gen. Braddock, and supposing that her husband was slain 
at that time, during her imprisonment married a French 
subaltern, by whom she had one child, being with her hus- 
band coming prisoner through Albany, was there discov- 
ered by her former husband, who was then on duty there. 
He immediately demanded her, and after some struggles of 
tenderness for her French husband she left him and closed 
again with her first tho' 'tis said the French husband in- 
sisted on keeping the chilli as his property, which was as- 
sented to by the wife and first husband." 

All of the captivities of the earlier period are but trifling 
as compared with the great number during the Revolution- 
ary War. It is instructive to note how the main features 
of that war on the western frontier, were mere retaliatory 
strokes. The so-called Lord Dunmore's war was little 
more than massacre and counter-massacre, first by whites, 
then by red men, the latter more and more reinforced by 
the British. In 1778 came the great stroke at Wyoming, 
soon after followed by that at Cherry Valley. In retali- 
ation for these attacks, Sullivan's raid through the Seneca 
Lake and Genesee valleys was planned and carried out in 


1779. It scattered the Senecas, drove them out from their 
old homes, and broke forever the power of the Iroquois 
Confederacy. Yet it did not put an end to the British and 
Indian attacks on the American frontiers. Indeed, there 
was no period during the war in which the allies at Fort 
Niagara were more active than in 1780 to 1782. During 
this period many war parties constantly haunted the Mo- 
hawk and Schoharie valleys, and those of eastern Penn-- 
sylvania, of the Susquehanna and Juniata. The purpose of 
these raids was not merely to burn, to kill and to take cap- 
tive, but to cripple the enemy by destroying the crops on 
which the Americans relied for the subsistence of their 
army. At that period, the Schoharie valley was one of the 
best-developed grain sections in America, That Sir John 
Johnson, Butler, Brant and their followers did their work 
effectively is shown by the following extract from a letter 
by James Madison, dated Philadelphia, Nov. 14, 1780. 
After speaking of the difficulty experienced in getting sup- 
plies of wheat and flour for the army, he adds : 

"The inroads of the enemy on the frontiers of New York have 
been most fatal to us in this respect. They have almost totally 
ruined that fine wheat country, which was able, and from the energy 
of their government, was likely to supply magazines of flour, both 
to the main army and the northwestern posts. The settlement of 
Schoharie, which alone was able to furnish, according to a letter 
from Gen. Washington, eighty thousand bushels of grain for public 
use, has been totally laid in ashes." 

Writing elsewhere 5 of Indian captivities I have summed 
up this phase of the subject as follows : 

"Most of the captivities which figure in American his- 
tory came about through the alliance of the red man with 
white foes of the American settler. In the old French war, 
Indians from Canada carried off people who were their 
enemies only because they lived in British colonies. In the 
American Revolution, the rebel colonists, pioneers, and 
soldiers were captured by Indians, not because of any 
grievance which the Indians had against them, but in the 

5. "Narratives of Captivity . . . The Captivity and Sufferings of 
Benjamin Gilbert and his Family," Cleveland, 1904- 


ordinary (Indian) course of warfare, in the British in- 

"The regions in which captivities have occurred varied 
according to the period. As every reader of colonial New 
England history knows, many a frontier hamlet was at- 
tacked and the wretched prisoners carried northward into 
Canada, 'whence they came not back/ as- many an old 
chronicle records. As settlement pushed westward, and 
the conflict between France and Great Britain was carried 
into the valley of the Ohio, the course of captivities ran 
westwardly, from the borders of Virginia and Pennsyl- 
vania into the wilds of Kentucky and Ohio. French offi- 
cers at their posts on the Ohio and the Great Lakes ran- 
somed from Indian hands many a white prisoner. 

"But the Indian captivity, as a feature of American 
warfare, did not reach its greatest development until the 
days of the Revolution, when the British, established on 
the lake and western posts from which they had ousted the 
French, made alliance with the greater part of the Six 
Nations and employed them with dire effect upon the 
American frontiers. From no spot in the long chain of 
wilderness outposts was this sort of warfare waged more 
fiercely or more successfully than from Fort Niagara, on 
the south shore of Lake Ontario at the mouth of the fam- 
ous river. Here, throughout the Revolution, the British 
maintained a garrison. Here was the principal rendezvous 
of their most efficient Indian allies, the Senecas; and from 
this spot, year after year, were sent out raiding expeditions, 
sometimes under joint British and Indian leadership, some- 
times conducted solely by the Indians. They moved swift- 
ly over the forest trails, eastward to the valleys of the 
Mohawk and upper Susquehanna, or southeasterly into 
Pennsylvania; fell upon the frontier farms, burned the 
buildings, slaughtered the cattle, stole the horses, and 
brought away such prisoners as they did not kill, back over 
the hundreds of miles of lake and river, valley and forest 
upland, to the old seats on the lower Genesee or the Tona- 
wanda, or to the base of supplies and encouragement, Fort 


Niagara. From this old 'hawks' nest' went forth those 
savage expeditions which made the names of Wyoming, 
Cherry Valley, Harpersfield, Bowman's Creek, and many 
another scene of slaughter memorable in the history of the 
'back country' during the Revolution. Probably, during 
that period, at least a thousand prisoners were brought 
hither. Many of them spent years of arduous servitude 
among the natives who adopted them " 

The routes by which prisoners of the Revolutionary 
period were carried to Canada were various, but in most 
cases they led through Fort Niagara. The greater part of 
the captives taken in the Mohawk and Schoharie valleys 
were brought thither, although their ultimate destination 
was Montreal or Quebec. I have nowhere found account 
of Revolutionary captives being carried directly north from 
the Mohawk to the St. Lawrence, though it is probable 
that there was some such travel up the West Canada 
Creek, or the upper Hudson and Champlain. Many a party 
of braves, however, returning from the upper Mohawk, 
brought their prisoners to Fort Niagara by way of the 
great path south of Oneida Lake, through Onondaga, past 
the outlet of Cayuga Lake, through Ga-nun-da-sa-ga (Gen- 
eva), and the Seneca towns of the Genesee and Tona- 

But by far the greatest number of prisoners were 
brought in over the great southwestern route, which tapped 
not only New York State south of the Mohawk, as far east 
as the Hudson, but the valleys of the Susquehanna, the 
Lehigh and the Delaware. Every one of the Schoharie 
prisoners, of whose captivity we have any account, was 
carried first up the Schoharie or Cobleskill valleys, south- 
erly, crossing the divide to the head streams of the Dela- 
ware or, almost always, of the north branch of the Susque- 
hanna. There were trails on both sides of this stream to 
the great junction of many paths, at Tioga Point. From 
here the prisoners were sometimes carried north by the 
Seneca Lake path, sometimes more to the westward, fol- 
lowing the Chemung and Conhocton, the Genesee and 


Tonawanda. Many a prisoner, taken in the Schoharie and 
Mohawk valleys, of whom we read that he was "carried 
captive to Canada," was taken the long, roundabout way of 
this southwestern path, Fort Niagara, Lake Ontario and 
the St. Lawrence, to Montreal or Quebec or even in some 
cases, to Halifax ; returning home by way of Boston. 

Many American captives are mentioned, in early local 
histories and in manuscript records, as having been "car- 
ried to Canada/' with no indication of the route followed. 
The New England captives were generally carried north by 
the Champlain or other direct routes, and do not come into 
our present survey. 

Sir John Johnson's flight to Canada, in 1776, was not 
over any of the much-frequented ways. He and his re- 
tainers were taken by their Indian escort, northward from 
the Mohawk by way of the Sacandaga; but not daring to 
attempt the Champlain valley, which was the great high- 
way to Montreal, they struck through the Adirondack 
wilderness to the westward, reaching the banks of the St. 
Lawrence, worn and famished, after nineteen days of great 
hardship. The experience was one which neither the British 
nor their Indians were likely to hazard, in convoying pris- 

There was one frequented Indian path, which led direct- 
ly north from the upper Mohawk. It is shown on a map 
"drawn by Mr. Metcalfe," published in London, Feb. I, 
1780. The field of the map, which is designed primarily to 
show the points of principal action in the campaign of 
1777, under Burgoyne, is the southern Champlain and 
Lake George region, the upper Hudson, the Mohawk, and 
territory north and west to the St. Lawrence and Lake On- 
tario. The trail referred to, began on Fish Creek, a tribu- 
tary of Wood Creek, between Fort Stanwix (Rome) and 
Oneida Lake, and followed a northerly course until it 
struck the watershed of the Indian River, which it followed 
to "Lake Oswegatchie," now Black Lake, thence by its 
waters and its outlet, the Oswegatchie, to the St. Lawrence 
at La Galette or present Ogdensburg. This trail is marked 


on Metcalfe's map: "Indian path followed by Capt. Rob- 
erts, commissary at Michillimackinac." The basis of the 
map is Sauthier's, published in London in 1779, compiled 
"from surveys," by order of Maj. Gen. Tryon. There is 
little doubt that prisoners were carried to Canada by this 
route, and also by way of Oswego and the east end of On- 
tario, either by boat, or by the shore, as was Robert East- 
burn, a somewhat famous captive of 1756. War parties, at 
one period and another, came into the Mohawk valley from 
Montreal, by way of Lake Champlain, to Ballston, where 
the trail divided, one route striking the Mohawk at Schen- 
ectady, another advancing through Glenville to Lewis 
Creek, at Adriuche, and still another through Galway and 
down the Juchtanunda Creek to Amsterdam. But the fact 
remains, that by far the greater number of prisoners during 
the Revolutionary period, were carried by the war parties 
back to the base whence these parties had come; and that 
base, for the Mohawk and Schoharie operations, was not 
the Adirondack wilderness or even Montreal, but Fort 

It may be noted that many of the old trails, although re- 
ferred to as following this or that stream, by no means 
kept close to the water, unless there was good canoeing. 
Oftener they followed the ridges, perhaps miles back from 
the water-course the general direction of which marked 
their road through the wilderness. 

One finds little record of Indian, or British and Indian, 
incursions against the American back settlements in the 
first two years of the war; but by 1777 this plan of cam- 
paign had begun to be found effective. Brant's first hostile 
demonstrations in New York were made in May, 1777. In 
November of that year, also, the first scalping-party from 
Fort Niagara reached the Juniata valley in Pennsylvania. 
In 1778 this phase of the warfare attained its climax at 
Wyoming. A year later. Gens. Sullivan and James Clin- 
ton with their army of some 5,000, met and utterly routed 
some 1,500 Indians and Tories at Newtown, near the pres- 
ent Elmira. The Six Nations Confederacy never recovered 


from this blow ; but far from ending the Indian raids 
against the American settlements, Sullivan's blighting 
campaign seems rather to have stimulated them. In the 
next year war parties from Fort Niagara harried all the 
western frontiers of New York and Pennsylvania, and car- 
ried death and desolation into a dozen valleys. In 1780 Sir 
John Johnson and the Butlers made their first raid through 
the Mohawk valley proper; and it was in the same year 
that the Schoharie settlements were destroyed. In that 
year and the following the firebrand and the hatchet were 
busy at Little Falls, at Canajoharie, Fort Plain, Bowman's 
Creek, Cherry Valley. The slender barrier of the friendly 
Oneidas was broken down, and over all the trails, from the 
Mohawk to the Ohio, the stream of prisoners flowed un- 
ceasingly to Fort Niagara. 

As continued study of this phase of the Revolution 
brings to one a wider comprehension of it, there comes also 
a sense of the little we know of it ; a realization of the lack 
of record, and a conviction that if such record existed, it 
would show a far greater number of captives than the frag- 
mentary known facts indicate. 

Undoubtedly many of whom we have some knowledge, 
but with no indication of route, were brought to Fort Niag- 
ara. No names, however, are included in the following list 
concerning which there is not good evidence to show that 
they rightfully belong there. The list is but an attempt to 
preserve in form convenient for reference such facts as 
have been assembled regarding these captives at Fort Niag- 
ara. In the case of those whose story is already published 
at length, but a brief abstract is here given, the reader 
being referred to the more complete narrative elsewhere. 
In general, the source of information is briefly indicated. 
The list may prove of value to students. It will at least by 
mere force of numbers make impressive this phase of the 
Revolution in the Niagara region. 



ALLAN, EBENEZER. The accident of the alphabet puts at the head 
of the list of Niagara captives one who of all men was least 
typical of the class. "Indian" Allan, as he was called, was a 
native of New Jersey, and during the Revolution a follower of 
Brant and Butler. Near the close of that war, he made his 
headquarters at Mary Jemison's home, at Gardeau in the Gene- 
see valley. He worked for her, then brought goods from Phila- 
delphia and opened trade at Mount Morris. For carrying a 
bogus message of peace to the Americans, he won the enmity 
of the British at Fort Niagara. After many adventures he was 
arrested; he escaped, and was rearrested and carried bound to 
Niagara, where he was held a prisoner through one winter 
probably a year or two after the peace of 1783. In the spring 
he was taken to Montreal for trial and acquitted the charge 
being, apparently, that he had carried a peace-belt of wampum 
to the enemy, with intent to deceive. His subsequent career, as 
murderer, Bluebeard of the backwoods (he had many wives, 
not always one at a time), and later as prisoner again at Niagara 
under the Americans, presents many extraordinary features, 
which are not, however, within the scope of this schedule. 
Turner's "History of the Holland Purchase." 

ANDERSON, (Lieut.) . Taken prisoner on the Ohio, Aug. 

24, 1781. Brought to Fort Niagara, and sent thence, with thirty 
others, among them Capt. Stokely, Lieuts. Hall, Robinson, Craig, 
Ravensberg and Scott, Ensign Hunter and Adjutant Guthrie, to 

Haldimand MSS., British Museum; copies in Archives Office, 

ANDERSON, GEORGE. Name also given as Andrieson. Taken by the 
Indians at Lackawack (Legewegh), Ulster County, N. Y., in 
1778. With a companion, Jacob Osterhout, was carried, accord- 
ing to a contemporary account, "within one day's march of 
Niagara." (Connecticut Journal, Sept. 2, 1778). Another rela- 
tion says, "A few miles from the present site of Binghamton." 
("Tom Quick, the Indian Slayer: and the Pioneers of Minisink 
and Wawarsink." Monticello, N. Y., 1851.) Anderson toma- 
hawked the three Indians who had them in charge; while they 
slept, and with the timid and helpless Osterhout, fled to the 
settlements, narrowly escaping starvation. They reached Wawar- 
sink, but Osterhout died soon after from exhaustion and priva- 
tion, and Anderson, formerly an active and robust pioneer, 
became insane, shunned men, made his abode in a cave, and 
finally disappeared. 



ARANTS, JACOB, of Mercer's Company, Virginia Regiment, which 
capitulated to the French at Great Meadows, July 4, 1754. Was 
taken to Fort Du Quesne as an Indian prisoner, and sent on, 
in the custody of the Indians, by way of Fort Niagara, to 

"Memoirs of Major Robert Stobo, of the Virginia Regiment," 
Pittsburg, 1854. The anonymous author was Neville B. Craig, 
who obtained a copy of the "Memoirs" from the original manu- 
script in the British Museum. 

ARMSTRONG, HANNAH. Apparently taken at Fort Stanwix in 1783. 
In that year David Ogden saw her, a young woman, with other 
captives, at the Niagara carrying-place, now Lewiston. Her 
captors carried her across the river into Canada; no further 
trace of her. 

"True Narrative of the Capture of David Ogden," etc., by 
Josiah Priest, Lansingburgh, N. Y., 1840; Severance's "Old 
Trails on the Niagara Frontier." 

ARMSTRONG, THOMAS. Taken in infancy by the Senecas during the 
Revolution ; adopted by his captors ; in 1818 and later years was 
an interpreter at the Buffalo Creek mission; Dec. 4, 1820, mar- 
ried Rebecca Hempferman, also a white captive. 

"Account of Sundry Missions performed among the Senecas 
and Munsees," etc., by Rev. Timothy Alden, New York, 1827. 
Turner's "Holland Purchase." Buf. Hist. Soc. Pubs., vol. vi. 

ARNEST family. Three in number, given names, ages, etc., not 
stated. Made captive in Pennsylvania, July, 1781 ; arrived in 
Montreal from Fort Niagara, Oct. 4, 1782. 
Haldimand MSS. 


AUBRY, (Capt.) . A Knight of St. Louis, taken prisoner by 

Sir Wm. Johnson at Fort Niagara (in the engagement to the 
south of the fort, near La Belle Famille), July 25, 1759. Sent 
to New York, with Pouchot and the other French prisoners 
from Niagara. He was subsequently twice governor of Louisi- 
ana. In 1769 he sailed from New Orleans for Bordeaux, "and 
the vessel had already entered the River Garonne, when she was 
overtaken by a heavy storm and sank, Feb. 24, 1770. Governor 
Aubry and all on board (except the captain and a couple of 
sailors) perished on this disastrous occasion." (Gayarre.) Aubry 
was a prominent figure in the campaigns and expeditions on the 
Niagara, Lake Erie, Alleghany and Ohio, during the last years 
of the French period. 

BAKER, JOHN, of Mercer's Company, Virginia Regiment, taken by 
the French at Great Meadows, July 4, 1754. Sent to Canada in 
the custody of the Indian who captured him, following the line 
of French posts from Du Quesne to Niagara, thence down the 
lake to Montreal. 

Stobo's "Memoirs." 


BEATLES, JAMES. Taken by Capt. Bird at Licking Creek, Pa., Aug. 
6, 1781 ; James Rudelle and James McCarthy were taken at the 
same time, and all brought to Fort Niagara, whence they were 
sent with thirty other American prisoners to Montreal, arriving 
there Nov. 28, 1781. 
Haldimand MSS. 

BELLETRE, (Capt.) PICOTE DE. French commandant at Detroit, who 
surrendered to Major Robert Rogers, Nov. 29, 1760. Belletre 
and his garrison were sent to Fort Niagara, as prisoners of war, 
thence to Montreal. Belletre's career is worthy of a more ex- 
tended record than would be in place here. As early as 1746 he 
was sent to Bay Verte in command of a "biscayenne." The same 
year he was at Beaubassin, returning to Quebec in October. In 
the winter of that year he appears to have entered upon the 
western service which was long to engage him. It was no doubt 
in 1746 or '47 that he was first at Fort Niagara, then under the 
command of Capt. Duplessis. In April, 1747, he returned to 
Quebec from Fort St. Joseph, bringing with him twelve chiefs 
of western tribes. In November of the same year he returned 
to Fort St. Joseph. In a report on Indian affairs at this time 
M. Boisherbert spoke of him as "known and loved by the Indians 
of the River St. Joseph," and added: "He is an Ensign of 
excellent conduct, who served through the Chicaches campaign, 
and marched to the village under M. de Celoron. . . . Sieur 
de Belletre is a brave fellow, who pleases every one that is with 
him. He accompanies Father de la Richardie as far as Detroit." 
The next year, at Detroit, de Belletre distinguished himself by 
rescuing the crew of a canoe from Indians and capturing the 
assailants. In 1751-52 he was among the Miamis; in 1756 he led 
250 Miamis and Outaganons on a raid "150 leagues below Fort 
Duquesne," into Carolina ; those killed and carried off captive 
by his force numbered 300. On this expedition he was wounded 
in the arm and shoulder. In 1757 we find him leading a war- 
party of 300 men "in the direction of Corlar," i. e., Albany. 
His attack on the German Flats, opposite Fort Herkimer, and 
raid through the Mohawk valley, in November, 1757, were a 
severe blow to the English. Lt. Gov. De Lancey reported to 
the Lords of Trade, Jan. 5, 1758, that the destruction at the Flats, 
amounted to "twenty thousand pounds this money" (i. e., New 
York standard), that some of the inhabitants were slain and 
"about one hundred carried into captivity." The French report 
of the expedition gives minute details of the destruction wrought, 
and puts the number of killed at 40, and of prisoners at "nearly 
150 men, women and children, among whom is the Mayor of the 
village," etc., while the value of property destroyed or carried 
off is in astonishingly large figures. The grain destroyed or 
appropriated was "a much larger quantity than the Island of 
Montreal has produced in years of abundance" ; the report adds, 
"the same of hogs," and says that 3,000 horned cattle, 3,000 sheep, 
1,500 horses; furniture, merchandise and liquor to the value of 
1,500,000 livres; specie amounting to 100,000 livres, and wam- 
pum, silver bracelets, fine cloths, etc., equal to 80,000 livres, all 


fell into the hands of Belletre and his followers. But his retreat 
was so hasty that he killed many of the horses, and left behind 
much of the plunder. Belletre was on the Niagara when the last 
French defense of Fort Niagara was made, in July, 1759; but 
was sick and took no part in the action. A few days after the 
surrender of Fort Niagara he led the forces from Presqu' Isle 
and Fort Machault, to Detroit, where he commanded until his 
surrender to Major Rogers in November, 1760. He had in his 
time made captive many English ; and it was no doubt with 
uncommon satisfaction that the British conducted him to the 
old stronghold of Niagara, at last a prisoner himself. 
N. Y. Col. Docs.; Paris Docs. 

BELLINGER, . One of two brothers, young lads, who were 

taken captive by a party led by Capt. John Dockstader, July 9, 
1781, at a small settlement called Curry Town, in the present 
town of Root, Montgomery County, N. Y. The Bellinger boys 
were taken with the family of Jacob Dievendorf, James Butter- 
field, Carl Herwagen and others, most of whom were toma- 
hawked and scalped. This was the fate of one of the Bellingers. 
The other, and James Butterfield, were carried to Fort Niagara. 
Simms says of this expedition that "two of the enemy carried a 
wounded comrade from the battle-field, on a blanket between two 
poles, all the way to the Genesee valley, where he died." 
Simms, "History of Scoharie County." 

BERRY family. Names, ages and number in family not specified. 
Captured in Virginia, June 24, 1780. Arrived in Montreal from 
Fort Niagara, Oct. 4, 1782. 
Haldimand MSS. 

BETTS, (Corporal) SAMUEL. Taken prisoner by Brant near Fort 
Stanwix, March 2, 1781, with David Ogden and others. Shared 
in general the adventures of Ogden (q. v.). On the march to 
Niagara, Brant delighted to annoy Betts, and compelled him to 
parade his fellow prisoners, fifteen in number and put them 
through the manual, according to the tactics of Baron Steuben. 

Priest's "David Ogden." Simms' "Schoharie County." Sev- 
erance's "Old Trails on the Niagara Frontier." 

BIDLACK, (Capt.) JAMES. An elderly man, taken prisoner at Shaw- 
ney (Shawnee), Pa. In the autumn of 1781 he was released on 
parole by the British at Fort Niagara, and returned home. 

Details of Capt. Bidlack's captivity are lacking. Miner's 
"Wyoming" (p. 261) states that he was captured, December 
21 st apparently 1778 with Josiah Rogers, while "crossing the 
flats on their way to Plymouth. Springing from their covert, 
the savages failed in an attempt to seize the bridles of their 
horses. A race ensued of intense interest. The girth of Capt. 
Bidlack's saddle breaking, he was thrown and made prisoner." 
Again (p. 297) Miner says: "In the autumn [1781] the settle- 
ment was surprised and gratified by the return of the aged 
Captain James Bidlack and Mr. Harvey . . . two of the 


prisoners taken the preceding December." An account by Gordon, 
an early "historian," of Bidlack's torture at the stake, is dis- 
posed of as "without foundation." Capt. Bidlack's son James 
was killed at the battle of Wyoming. 

BORST, (Lieut.) JACOB, of Cobleskill. A well-known and active figure 
during the earlier years of the Revolution, in the Schoharie 
valley. Late in October, 1781, with Sergeant William Kneiskern, 
Jacob Kerker and Christian Myndert, at the latter's place in 
Sharon, he was helping to secure the crops and shut up the 
hogs. The day being cold and stormy, the four went into 
Myndert's house to warm themselves ; were there surprised by 
a party of Indians commanded by one Walradt, a Mohawk-val- 
ley tory, and after a scuffle were all made prisoners and tightly 
bound- The journey to Fort Niagara, most of the way through 
snow, was one of great hardship. As they approached Niagara, 
they had to run the gauntlet, in which Borst was so severely 
chastised that he became consumptive and died soon after reach- 
ing Fort Niagara. 

BOUCK, ABRAHAM. A boy taken with George Frimire, the Utmans, 
and others, near Cobleskill, in September, 1781, carried captive 
to Niagara. 

Simms, "History of Schoharie County." 

BOUCK, SILAS. Taken prisoner at Wawarsink, N. Y., Aug. 12, 1781, 
by a party of 400 Indians, British and tories led by one Caldwell. 
He was offered his freedom if he would guide a party against 
the settlement at Newtown, but he refused. The frontiersmen 
and some American troops rallying, the Indians fled, leaving 
Caldwell without guides. "He induced Bouck to pilot him back 
to Niagara, by promising to treat him well when they got there." 
How Bouck got his knowledge of the western trails is not 
known. Bpuck's coming thus to the Niagara was exceptional, 
perhaps unique, for he was a trusty Whig. From Fort Niagara 
he was sent to Montreal, confined in a log prison, where he suf- 
fered from hunger and harsh treatment. He escaped in the 
night with two other captives ; they attempted to swim the St. 
Lawrence, Bouck being the only one to reach the opposite shore. 
He made a perilous journey through the wilderness, narrowly 
escaping recapture by Indians, and sustaining life by eating 
snails, a raw rattlesnake, etc. After an absence of fourteen 
months he reached Catskill and his home, where he had long 
been given up as dead. 

For burning of Wawarsink and capture of Bouck, see "Tom 
Quick the Indian Slayer, and the Pioneers of Minisink and 
Wawarsink," Monticello, 1851 ; Connecticut Journal, Oct. n, 1781 ; 
and numerous other contemporary or early accounts. 

BOUCK, WILLIAM. In July, 1781, while harvesting, in the town of 
Middleburgh, some six miles south of Schoharie, William Bouck ; 
his son Lawrence, aged 18; Frederick Mattice and his son Fred- 
erick, aged 10 ; and two little girls, a sister and cousin of young 
Mattice, were surprised and made captive by a party of Indians 


headed by Capt. David, a Mohawk. They were carried up the 
Schoharie valley; i. e., to the southward. On the first day of 
the captivity the little girls were liberated and sent home. At 
night, young Lawrence Bouck escaped. The two Mattices were 
charged by the Indians with having freed him, and were tied to 
a tree to be killed. Persuaded by the elder Bouck that they had 
nothing to do with the escape of his son, they were allowed to 
live, but were harshly treated all the way to Fort Niagara. (See 
MATTICE.) The journey to Fort Niagara occupied twenty days, 
and much of the time they were at the point of starvation. At 
one time, for a day or two, probably in the Susquehanna Valley, 
their only food was a few green apples. For four days they 
went with nothing to eat. At Oquago they found a colt that 
had been lost by Capt. Dockstader's party. This was killed, a 
part made an immediate feast, the rest was dried and carried 
along. One wild duck was shot, but there seems to have been 
a well-nigh total lack of game. The party followed the Sus- 
quehanna valley to Chenango Point (now Binghamton), and 
thence followed the great western trail to the Genesee towns, 
where the prisoners had to run the gauntlet. In the Genesee 
valley for the first time on the march, they got fresh vege- 
table food corn and pumpkins. On arriving at Niagara Bouck 
and the Mattices were at first confined in the guard-house, then 
separated, Bouck being sent first to Montreal, then on to Quebec, 
where he was exchanged, removed to Halifax, and from there 
sailed for Boston. He reached his home in the Schoharie valley 
in Christmas week, 1782, after an absence of eighteen months. 
Simms, "Schoharie County." 

BOUNAFOUX (Bonafour, Bonafous, Bounnaffous), , Lieut. 

de. Commanded the artillery at the siege of Niagara ; prisoner 
of war at that fort with Pouchot, July 25, 1759. See POUCHOT. 

BOURKE, THOMAS. A trader of Lancaster, Pa., who in 1748, with 
Luke Irwin of Philadelphia, Joseph Fortiner and John Patton, 
undertook a trading enterprise on the Ohio. They were taken 
prisoners by the French and brought to Fort Niagara, thence 
carried to Montreal, where with others they underwent an exami- 
nation, June 19, 1751, by the Marquis de la Jonquiere. Three of 
them at least, Bourke, Irwin and Patton, were sent to France as 
prisoners ; the next year they were still held as prisoners at 

The Earl of Albermarle to the Earl of Holdernesse, Paris, 
March i, 1752. Also, "The Mystery Reveal'd," London, 1759. 
This work, excessively rare, contains an account of the capture 
of these traders, and of their examination in Montreal, but with 
names of persons and places misspelled well-nigh beyond recog- 
nition. There was some correspondence between Gov. Clinton 
and the Marquis de la Jonquiere, regarding these traders. 

BOWEN, OWEN. Appears to have been an American prisoner. He 
lived with Col. Guy Johnson upwards of three years as a clerk. 
It is recorded of him that he ran in debt to Taylor & Forsyth, 
merchants at Fort Niagara ; and also that while at the fort he 


married a woman prisoner (name not stated), with three chil- 
dren. He was unable to support them, and memorialized 
Abraham Cuyler, commissary for the prisoners, for a prisoner's 
allowance of provisions and clothing. 
Haldimand MSS. 

BRICE, JOHN. With his younger brother Robert, aged n, he was 
captured by Indians at Van Rensselaer's Patent, now Rensse- 
laerville, N. Y., in the spring of 1782. With them was taken 
Capt. William Dietz, whose father, mother, wife and four chil- 
dren were killed and scalped. Their captors took much plunder, 
but alarmed by pursuit, fled with their three prisoners and eight 
scalps, by way of the Schoharie and Unadilla, Susquehanna north 
branch, Chemung and Genesee, nearly starving before they were 
safely beyond pursuit and could hunt. Near the mouth of the 
Unadilla, Robert Brice was separated from his brother and 
Capt. Dietz. The two latter were carried to Fort Niagara, and 
detained there or in the neighborhod, until the Peace of 1783, 
when they were joined by Robert and sent down to Montreal. 
The Brice boys subsequently reached their home. See BRICE, 

BRICE, ROBERT. Son of a Scotch backwoodsman who migrated to 
America in 1774, settling at Van Rensselaer's Patent, now Rens- 
selaerville, 22 miles west of Albany, N. Y. In the spring of 1782 
this 1 1 -year-old lad was sent on horseback to mill, eight or nine 
miles through the woods; returning, as he drew near the house 
of Johannas Dietz, where his brother John was at work, he was 
seized by a painted warrior; saw his brother and Capt. Dietz 
prisoners, eight others (seven of the Dietz family and a ser- 
vant) slain. At the mouth of the Unadilla, Robert was taken 
away from the rest of the party, and with three Indians, crossed 
Western New York, being made to run the gauntlet and fre- 
quently beaten and maltreated in the Indian villages through 
which they passed. At the Nine Mile Landing, on Lake Ontario, 
his head was shaved and decked with feathers, he was dressed 
and treated as an Indian boy, and taken on fishing and hunting 
parties. After several weeks his master took him to Fort Erie, 
where a Scotch vessel captain bought him for $15. Robert 
sailed to Detroit, where he was placed in the care of one Parks, 
also a Scotchman, with whom he remained until the Peace of 
!783, when he came down Lake Erie with other captives ; they 
passed from Fort Erie to Fort Schlosser in batteaux, thence 
making the portage and continuing to Fort Niagara where he 
found his brother John. The Brice brothers were among the 
liberated captives who, at this time, men, women and children, 
numbered about 200. From Montreal they crossed to La Prairie, 

Cing thence to St. Johns on the Richelieu in carts; thence up 
ke Champlain to Skeensborough, now Whitehall, thence to 
Albany. There their father met them and they were welcomed 
home as though risen from the dead. 

In 1838, when Jpsiah Priest published his "Stories of the 
Revolution," containing the narrative of "The Captive Boys of 


Rensselaerville," Robert Brice was a well-to-do farmer in Beth- 
lehem, Albany County; from his own lips Priest had the story 
of his captivity. Simms, "History of Schoharie County," also 
tells the story of these boys, whose name he spells "Bryce." 


BROWN brothers. Two boys taken with their grandfather Brown, 
by Brant, near Harpersfield, in April, 1780. The old man was 
soon killed; the boys appear to have been brought through to 
Fort Niagara with Alexander Harper and other captives of the 
same party. 

BROWN (or BROOM?), JAMES. A prisoner at Fort Niagara in April, 
1781, but details of his capture not known. It is stated (Haldi- 
mand MSS.) that he enlisted in the British naval service, and 
afterwards formed a plan to desert with six men ; was evidently 
foiled in his attempt, for on April 23, 1781, Brig.-Gen. Powell 
shipped him off from Fort Niagara to Quebec, with William 
Hinton and three others lately taken on the Ohio; Jasper 
Edwards, taken at Fort Stanwix in 1781, and with him Sarah 
Elder; Margaret Odenoffe (?), taken on the Delaware; Eve and 
Catherine Miller, Christian and Eliza Sheak, taken at different 
places by the Indians; in all a party of twenty prisoners. 

BROWN, JOSEPH. Captured July 4, 1782, near the Upper Fort of 
Schoharie, carried to Canada by way of Fort Niagara. 
Simms, "Schoharie County." 

BRYCE brothers. See BRICE. 

BUNDY (Mrs.) NANCY. Taken prisoner at Wyoming, Pa., in 1778, 
with her husband and two children. Brought to the Genesee, 
where her husband was taken from her. While in captivity here 
an Indian sought to make her his wife. She told him that could 
not be, as she had a husband. He disappeared but returned in 
a few days and renewed his suit, saying that he had removed 
the obstacle had found and killed her husband. Nancy repuls- 
ing him, he seized and tied her and brought her to Fort Niagara, 
where the British officers paid him eight dollars for her, that 
being, according to several accounts, the usual price for a scalp 
or a prisoner, though in some cases large sums were paid for 
captives. At the fort Mrs. Bundy cooked for the officers; she 
also cared for at least one prisoner, the youth Freegift Patchin 
(q. v.). We have no trace of her after 1780, at Fort Niagara. 

BUNN, MATTHEW. Native of Massachusetts, enlisted in 1791, on an 
expedition into the Indian country; taken captive, October, 1791, 
near Fort Jefferson, O., and held a prisoner among the Indians 
about a year and a half. He finally escaped to Detroit, April, 
1793. As a prisoner of the British he was sent to Fort Niagara, 
where he enlisted in the Queen's Rangers, June, 1794. For at- 
tempted desertion he was put in irons at Niagara, and flogged 
with 500 blows. He finally escaped and reached Rehoboth, Mass., 
in October, 1795. 


Bunn's many adventures are recorded in a "Narrative," writ- 
ten by himself, first printed, apparently, at Providence, R. I., in 
1796. There are several early editions, one dated Batavia, N. Y., 
1826; all very scarce. The "Narrative" is reprinted, with some 
account of Bunn and his book, in vol. vii, Buf. Hist. Soc. Publi- 

BURGHER, . A young son of Peter Burgher, who with 

others was helping his father get in his crops, in the fall of 
1778 at Pakatakan, on the upper Delaware, near present Mill 
Brook, Delaware County, N. Y. The Indians surprised them, 
killed Peter Burgher, and took the son prisoner. He was car- 
ried to Fort Niagara and sold to a British officer. He after- 
wards returned home and was drowned in the Delaware, near 
where his father was killed. 

Jay Gould's "History of Delaware County." In the "Cen- 
tennial History of Delaware County" this name appears as 

BUTTERFIELD, JAMES. Taken with the Bellingers, Dievendorfs and 
others in the Mohawk Valley, July 9, 1781. See BELLINGER. 

BUTTS, BENJAMIN. A New England man, made prisoner some time 
prior to 1780, in which year he apeared in the Schoharie valley, 
wearing a green uniform. He had enlisted in the British ser- 
vice, apparently in Butler's Rangers, and had accompanied Sir 
John Johnson and his detachment of some 500 British Royalist, 
and German forces, from Fort Niagara, late in September, 1780, 
over the road which Sullivan had traveled the year before. On 
the Susquehanna they were joined by a large party of Indians 
under Brant. It is said that although many of the Indians left 
him, Johnson had at this time a force of 1000 men, with which 
to raid the Schoharie and Mohawk valleys. He purposely went 
late in the year, in order to destroy the gathered crops. Near 
the Middle Fort of Schoharie, Butts was captured from the 
British by Nicholas Sloughter and Timothy Murphy, the latter 
a famous soldier of Sullivan's army. Butts soon after returned 
to his New England home. 
Simms, "Schoharie County." 

CAMPBELL, (Mrs.) JANE. Wife of Col. Samuel Campbell. She was 
taken with her four children at Cherry Valley, Nov. n, 1778. 
They were brought to Kanadesaga (Geneva), where they were 
adopted into an Indian family, and Mrs. Campbell worked for 
her captors, making garments, etc. In the spring of 1779 Col. 
Butler went to Kanadesaga and with much difficulty secured 
her release. In June, 1779, she was taken to Fort Niagara, but 
her children were kept at Kanadesaga; when the Senecas re- 
treated before Sullivan they sought refuge at Fort Niagara, 
bringing the Campbell children in with them. Mrs. Campbell 
lived at the fort about a year, and in June, 1780, with her chil- 
dren, was sent down to Montreal, where she was exchanged for 
the wife and children of Col. Butler, they having been detained 
as prisoners at Albany. A little son of Mrs. Campbell, who had 


been with Mrs. Butler, joined his mother, and some months 
later the family reached their home at Cherry Valley. 

CAMPBELL, JOHN. Aged n, son of Mrs. Jane Campbell. Taken 
near Albany, 1780. Sent from Fort Niagara to Montreal, August, 
1783. Three other children of Mrs. Campbell shared their moth- 
er's captivity; their names are not learned. 
Haldimand MSS. 

CAMPBELL, JOHN. There is preserved among the Haldimand papers 
(Ottawa series, "B, 183:134") a letter written at Fort Niagara, 
Dec. 3, 1779, by one John Campbell to Capt. Lernoult, in which 
the writer protests the propriety of his conduct notwithstanding 
detrimental reports, "which reports may spread to my injury in 
the situation I now am, and not conscious of having even wrote 
to you before I was a prisoner." No facts have been found 
regarding his captivity. He does not appear to have been con- 
nected in any way with Mrs. Jane Campbell's family. 

CANNON, MATTHEW. Father of Mrs. Jane Campbell, and taken 
captive with her at Cherry Valley, Nov. II, 1778. His wife was 
killed, but he was carried to Fort Niagara, where he appears 
to have been detained until June, 1780, when he was sent to 
Montreal for exchange. 

CAREY, SAMUEL. Was 19 years old in 1778, when he was taken 
prisoner at Wyoming, Capt. Roland Monteur being his captor. He 
was naked when taken, having stripped off his clothes in order to 
swim the Susquehanna river. He was made to swim back again 
to the other side, was bound, and lay all night on the ground, 
without food. The next day Monteur led him to a young savage 
who was mortally wounded, and asked if the prisoner's life 
should be spared and be taken to the Indian's parents for adop- 
tion in place of the dying man. The brave assented and Carey 
was accordingly painted, given the name of the dying warrior 
Coconeunquo and taken to the Onondagas, where he lived two 
years as the adopted son of the parents of this Indian. In 1780 
he got to Fort Niagara, where he was detained until the end 
of the war. He reached home June 29, 1784, after six years of 
captivity. Charles Miner says that with one exception, Carey 
was the only person made prisoner in the battle, whose life was 
not sacrificed. This refers to the great battle of July 3d, for 
we know that several others, taken at or near Wyoming about 
this time, were brought to Fort Niagara. 

"The Hazelton Travelers," appendix to Miner's "History of 
Wyoming," Phila., 1845. 

CARR, DANIEL. Taken prisoner in Exeter, Pa., near the upper end 
of the Wyoming valley, June 30, 1778, with Daniel Weller and 
John Gardiner. Several of their companions were killed. Carr, 
Gardiner and Weller appear to have been sent to Fort Niagara, 
with other prisoners of the Wyoming fights. 

CARVER, (Capt.) JONATHAN. In September, 1759, there was pub- 
lished in the Royal Magazine (London) an "Account of the 


Fort of Niagara," signed "J. C r." The writer says: "The 

author was taken prisoner near Oswego, on the i6th of May, 
1758, and carried to the fort of Niagara, from whence he made 
his escape on the 24th of August following." He gives no par- 
ticulars. Although the identity of the writer cannot be positively 
asserted, there is good reason for believing that he was Capt. 
Jonathan Carver. We know that in 1758 Carver was a second 
lieutenant in a Massachusetts company, commanded by a Capt. 
Hawks, which served in a battalion of light infantry, commanded 
by Col. Oliver Partridge. It was raised by order of Governor 
Pownall, "for the purpose of invading Canada." Carver's famous 
book of "Travels" begins with 1766, and he makes no mention 
of a captivity in it. In Dr. John Coakley Lettson's biographical 
sketch of Carver, which prefaces the third edition of the "Trav- 
els," the above facts are given. 

CHRESHIBOOM, . A German, in the employ of Ephraim 

Vrooman (q. v.) at Schoharie, at the time of Brant's raid of 
Aug. 9, 1780. Appears to have been brought to Fort Niagara 
with some 30 other prisoners, afterwards sent on to Montreal 
and exchanged. Name dubious, but so spelled in Simms' "His- 
tory of Schoharie County." 

COFFEN, STEPHEN. Was taken prisoner by the French and Indians 
at Menis [Minas] in 1747; was detained at various places in 
present Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, thence taken to Quebec. 
In September, 1752, being still at Quebec, he was thrown into 
prison for negotiating with some Indians to take him to his 
native New England. Three months later he was released and 
allowed to accompany the French expedition to the Ohio. In 
the capacity of a soldier he thus arrived at Fort Niagara, where 
the expedition rested fifteen days. He shared in the abortive 
expedition which built the forts at Presqu' Isle and Le Boeuf, 
returning to Niagara in November. On their way eastward 
along the south shore of Lake Ontario, Coffen and a companion 
deserted, made their way to Oswego, and thence to Sir William 
Johnson's on the Mohawk. At Mt. Johnson, Jan. 10, 1754, he 
made a sworn statement before Sir William, of his experiences 
with the French. 

Johnson MSS., N. Y. State Archives. 

COLLINS family. Details of captivity not known. Arrived at Mon- 
treal from Fort Niagara, Oct. 4, 1782. 
Haldimand MSS. 

COURNOYER, . Lieutenant of the Marine (Fr.), prisoner of 

war at Fort Niagara, July 25, 1759, with Pouchot, q. v. 

COWLEY, ST. LEGER. Taken near present Waterville, N. Y., on the 
Delaware, in the summer of 1779, by an Indian named Seth 
Henry and three or four others. Isaac Sawyer was taken at the 
same time. The party started for Fort Niagara, but between the 
Genesee and the Niagara, Cowley and Sawyer rose in the night, 
killed two Indians and wounded two, seized the Indians' effects 


and started back to "Old Schoharie," where they arrived amid 
great rejoicing. 

Priest's "Stories of the Revolution," Albany, 1838. Jay 
Gould's "History of Delaware County," Roxbury, 1856. This 
latter authority says the escape occurred near Tioga Point. 

Cox family. Details of captivity not known. Arrived in Montreal 
from Fort Niagara, Oct. 4, 1782. 
Haldimand MSS. 

CRAIG, (Lieut.) . Taken on the Ohio, Aug. 24, 1781 ; sent 

by way of Fort Niagara to Montreal, November, 1781. 
Haldimand MSS. 

CROGAN, GEORGE. This celebrated interpreter was probably at Fort 
Niagara more than once. In 1756 Sir William Johnson appointed 
him a deputy agent of Indian affairs. In that capacity he was 
at Fort Pitt in 1758, soon after the French evacuation. On an 
expedition down the Ohio he was captured by the French and 
taken to Detroit. From Detroit he appears to have been sent 
East by way of Fort Niagara. He died in New York in 1782. 

CROWTHERS, ROBERT. Aged 40. Taken, at some point in Pennsyl- 
vania, in October, 1782; sent from Fort Niagara to Montreal, 
August, 1783. 

Haldimand MSS. 

DALLEY, JOHN, described as "a very busy servant," taken with his 
master, Immanuel Ganzalez, April 12, 1780, and confined with 
him at Fort Niagara some weeks later. 
Haldimand MSS. 

DALTON, (Capt.) . Made prisoner in 1782; arrived at Mon- 
treal, with 56 others from Fort Niagara, Oct. 4, 1782. 
Haldimand MSS. 

DALY, JOHN. Over 60 years old when he was captured by Brant, 
at the great raid on Schoharie, Aug. 9, 1780. With the Vroo- 
mans (q. v.) and many others, he was brought by way of Oquago, 
the Susquehanna and Genesee valleys, to Fort Niagara. In run- 
ning the gauntlet at an Indian village in Western New York he 
was so badly hurt that he died soon after reaching Niagara. 
Simms, "Schoharie County." 

DAVISON, FANNY. Aged 14. Made captive in New York, exact 
point not learned, April, 1780; sent with ten other American 
prisoners from Fort Niagara to Montreal in August, 1783. 
Haldimand MSS. 

DEANHOAT, NICHOLAS. In the spring of 1791 Col. Thomas Proctor, 
on his way from Philadelphia, to treat with the Indians at Buf- 
falo Creek and to the westward, found Deanhoat living with the 
Indians at Venango. He was of a Schenectady family, but had 
been a prisoner and among the Senecas so long that he pre- 
ferred to stay with them, although Col. Proctor offered to take 


him along, clothe him well and restore him to his friends. He 
begged a blanket, and was left with the Indians. Proctor after- 
wards employed him as a messenger, and gives his name vari- 
ously as "Deanhoat" or "Deamhout." 

DEITZ, (Capt.) . Taken with the Brice boys. (See BRICE, 

JOHN and ROBERT). Capt. Dietz was brought with John Brice to 
Fort Niagara, about 1779, and sent down to Montreal, where, 
says the old chronicle, he died "from the pain of a broken heart 
and the concomitant sorrows of captivity." 

"The Captive Boys of Rensselaerville," by Josiah Priest, 
Albany, 1838. 

DEMENY [?] family. Name obscure in original MS. Details of 
captivity not known. Arrived at Montreal from Fort Niagara, 
Oct. 4, 1782. 

Haldimand MSS. 

DENNIS, JACOB. Taken prisoner by Mississaugas ; sent from Detroit 
to Fort Niagara, thence to Montreal, November, 1781. 
Haldimand MSS. 

DEVEN, BARNABAS, of Van Braam's Company, Virginia Regiment, 
which capitulated to the French at Great Meadows, July 4, 1754. 
Said to have been brought to Fort Du Quesne an Indian pris- 
oner, and sent on to Forts Venango, LeBoeuf and Niagara in the 
custody of the Indian who captured him ; thence by lake to Mon- 

Stobo's "Memoirs." 

DODGE, JOHN. Brought to Niagara a prisoner, but not by Indians. 
Born in Connecticut, in 1770 he was an Indian trader at San- 
dusky. In 1775 he served as interpreter for some of the Indians 
at a treaty held at Fort Pitt, meeting their commissioners from 
Congress, and because of his devotion to the American cause 
won the enmity of the British at Detroit. The Governor at that 
post (Henry Hamilton) offered a hundred pounds for the cap- 
ture of Dodge, and sent out parties of Indians to take him. On 
Jan. 15, 1776, his house at Sandusky was surrounded by soldiers 
and savages, who made him a prisoner and marched him to 
Detroit. The commandant, Hamilton, put him in close confine- 
ment and threatened him with death.' He was shackled, sub- 
jected to much harsh treatment, and kept in expectation of exe- 
cution. In June, 1776, after a long illness, several traders 
entered into security for him to the amount of 2,000, and he 
was allowed the freedom of the post. He now learned that the 
British had confiscated his property, which he valued at 1,600, 
and had given it to the Indians. In September, Dodge applied 
to Gov. Hamilton for permission to "go down the country," 
presumably back to his old trading post, but was refused. He 
later engaged in trade at Detroit, and in the spring of 1777 went 
to Mackinac as a trader. In his narrative Dodge charges Hamil- 
ton with mean interference with his sales, and refusing to let 
him have powder. He was ordered to join a scouting party of 


Indians, led by "Capt. Le Mote." Hamilton at this juncture 
being succeeded by Capt. Mountpresent (?), the order was not 
enforced. One of the scalping parties brought into Detroit a 
prisoner destined for the stake. Dodge bought him for 25, 
concealed him and was about shipping him off for Mackinac, 
when his humane plan was discovered by the British. De Jeane, 
his former jailer under Hamilton, again imprisoned Dodge, along 
with his servants and the wretch he had planned to save. 
Dodge was charged with carrying on correspondence with the 
"rebels" at Pittsburg, but satisfying the Governor with his denials 
and evidence, was again let go on bail. He continued to have 
unpleasant adventures until Jan. 25, 1778, when he once more 
got into serious trouble by accompanying "about two leagues" 
a party of traders bound for Sandusky. On his return he was 
seized and imprisoned and his house searched for compromising 
correspondence. He was made to wear "hand-bolts" and "leg- 
bolts," and lay in prison (his goods being confiscated again) 
until May I, 1778, when, still in irons, he was put on a vessel 
and sent to Fort Erie, thence to Fort Niagara, there transferred 
and sent on to Quebec. His subsequent adventures include deten- 
tion on the prison ship Mariah, and some months of parole in 
Quebec (during which he fought a duel because his adversary 
had said he "hoped that General Montgomery was in hell"). He 
finally took "leg bail" with an Indian guide, and made his way 
through the wilderness to Boston, reaching there Nov. 20, 1778. 
He reported to Gen. Gates, and was sent to Gen. Washington, to 
whom, and to assembled Congress, he told his story and gave 
information regarding British forces in Canada. 

"An entertaining Narrative of the cruel and barbarous Treat- 
ment and extreme Sufferings of Mr. John Dodge during his 
captivity of many months among the British at Detroit," etc.; 
2d edition, Danvers (Mass.), 1780. Of great rarity. Also given 
in Aim on' s Remembrancer, vol. vi. 

DODSON, ABIGAIL, aged 14; daughter of Samuel Dodson, living near 
Benjamin Gilbert, on Mahoning Creek, Pa., and taken with him 
and his family, April 25, 1780; brought to the Niagara, and in 
May, 1780, at a place about eight miles from the fort, was given 
to a Cayuga family, who took her about 200 miles distant into 
their country. She remained with them for several years, not 
being released when the Gilberts and Pearts were ; but after the 
restoration of peace (1784), her friends found her and took her 
home to Pennsylvania. Of all the Gilbert party, least is recorded 
of Abigail Dodson's experiences in captivity. 

"A Narrative of the Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin 
Gilbert and his Family," Philadelphia, 1784, and subsequent 

DOUGHERTY family. Names, ages and number in family not specified. 
Captured in Virginia, June 24, 1780. Arrived in Montreal from 
Fort Niagara, Oct. 4, 1782. 

Haldimand MSS. 


DUETT, HENRY. Taken in Virginia, with the Riddells, Porters, and 
others, June 24, 1780; arrived in Montreal from Fort Niagara, 
Oct. 4, 1782. 

Haldimand MSS. 

DUETT, MARY. Same record as Henry Duett. Their relationship 
not stated. 

EDWARDS, JASPER. Taken at Fort Stanwix early in 1781, and brought 
to Fort Niagara, whence he was shipped April 23, 1781, for 
Montreal or Quebec. 
Haldimand MSS. 

ELDER, SARAH. Mentioned as having been taken with Jasper Ed- 
wards at Fort Stanwix in 1781. She was brought to Fort Niag- 
ara, and on April 23, 1781, was shipped down the St. Lawrence. 
Haldimand MSS. 

ELDER, (Mrs.) . In May, 1780, a scalping party raiding the valley 

of the Juniata, in Pennsylvania, made a number of prisoners near 
the mouth of the Raystown Branch, among them Felix Skelly and 
a Mrs. Elder. They were carried westward by the Kitanning 
path. On the Alleghany, both were required to run the gauntlet. 
Mrs. Elder had kept possession of a long-handled frying-pan, 
and when she stepped between the lines of hostile warriors and 
malicious squaws, she still retained it. U. J. Jones, who records 
her adventures in his "History of the Juniata Valley," says : 
"The first savage stooped to strike her, and in doing so his scant 
dress exposed his person, which Mrs. Elder saw, and anticipated 
his intention by dealing him a blow on the exposed part which 
sent him sprawling upon all fours. The chiefs who were looking 
on laughed immoderately, and the next four or five, intimidated 
by her heroism, did not attempt to raise their clubs." She plied 
the old frying-pan lustily among the squaws, so they were glad 
to keep out of her reach. Her exploits won the heart of the 
Indian who had captured her, and on the march to Detroit he 
made love to her, to which she pretended to lend a willing ear, 
thereby escaping much harsh treatment. Young Skelly escaped 
and after many thrilling adventures, reached home. At Detroit 
Mrs. Elder became a cook in the British garrison. The length of 
her detention there is not known ; but she was finally sent down 
to Fort Niagara, and thence to Montreal, where she was ex- 
changed, reaching home by way of Philadelphia. 

EMERICK, CATHERINE. Wife of David Emerick. The Emerick 
family, settlers near New Berlin, valley of the Buffalo, Pa., were 
captured by Indians, said to be a band of Munseys, in April, 1781. 
David Emerick and others were killed, as was Mrs. Emerick's 
babe. "They (the Indians) pulled down a sapling, sharpened 
the end of it, impaled the babe, and let it fly in the air." One of 
the three daughters carried away captive died from excessive 
bleeding at the nose, on the journey through the wilderness. Mrs. 
Emerick and two daughters not only survived the hardships of 
the trail to Fort Niagara, but all married Indians, their captors. 
So at least runs one record of this surprising captivity, which 


adds that in after years Mrs. Emerick and her Indian husband 
went back to one Henry Myers' place, near Harrisburg, Pa., in 
order to draw some money coming to her from her grandfather's 
estate. Other facts indicate a different marriage. 'There is on 
record in Sunbury, a letter of attorney, dated the 5th of Janu- 
ary, 1805, . . . the parties to which are Archibald Thompson, 
of Stamford, in the district of Niagara, province of Upper Can- 
ada, and Catherine his wife, formerly the widow of David 
Emerick," etc. If she ever married one of the savages who had 
impaled her babe, she evidently made a subsequent and more 
natural alliance. Of the after fate of the daughters there is no 
record known to the present chronicler. 
Linn, "Annals of Buffalo Valley, Pa." 

EWING, (Miss) ELIZABETH. Abducted by the Indians, with Miss 

McCormick, between Stone Valley and Shaver's Creek (Juniata 
valley), Pa., in October, 1782. They traveled "for seven days, 
through sleet, rain and snow, until they reached the lake," i. e., 
Lake Erie, at what point is not stated, but the shortness of the 
time indicates that it was near the east end. Here "Miss Mc- 
Cormick was given as a present to an old Indian woman who hap- 
pened to take a fancy to her," though this probably did not take 
place until after the prisoners had been accounted for to the 
British officers at Fort Niagara. It was apparently on the Niag- 
ara that the young women were separated, Miss Ewing being 
sent to Montreal and soon after exchanged, reaching her home 
by way of Philadelphia. 

Jones, "History of the Juniata Valley." 

FESTER, GEORGE. Taken in September, 1781, at Cobleskill, N. Y., 
with John Frimire, q. v. 

FITCH, ELEMUEL. Taken in November, 1777, near Standingstone on 
the Susquehanna, by Tories and Indians, with John Jenkins, Jr., 
and a Mr. York. Fitch and the others were brought to Niagara, 
then sent to Montreal and exchanged or paroled. The name in 
some old narratives is printed "Lemuel." 
Miner's "Wyoming." 

FORTINER, JOSEPH. An English trader taken by the French on the 
Ohio in 1751. {See BOURKE, THOMAS.) His three companions, 
Bourke, Irwin and Patton, were sent to France and imprisoned. 
Fortiner was with them at Fort Niagara and at Montreal, where 
he was sharply examined by the Marquis de la Jonquiere; but 
we find no trace of him thereafter. 

FRANKLIN, JOSEPH. "In the spring of 1779 Mr. Roswell Franklin's 
son Roswell, son by his first wife, and a cousin of Joseph Frank- 
lin, were taken prisoners by the Indians as they were going to 
the farm one morning to plow. (They lived in the block-house 
[at Wyoming] through the winter for protection from the Tories 
and Indians.) After a long and tedious journey, five days of 
which they were without anything to eat, except nuts and berries 
which they gathered in the woods, and an old bear and two cubs, 


which they killed, they arrived at Fort Niagara, the boys becom- 
ing waiters to two British officers. In the next spring Roswell 
was taken back to the Genesee country as waiter upon another 

"In the spring of 1781 there was to be an exchange of pris- 
oners. Roswell and Joseph expressed their desire to be ex- 
changed. They with some thirty other prisoners were sent to 
Fort Niagara and then to Montreal. Here they were kept in jail 
for some months but well supplied with food. They were fer- 
ried across the St. Lawrence and up the lake of Champlain to 
Ticonderoga, where they met the American officer and an ex- 
change of prisoners was made. 

"Roswell, Joseph and three boys from Kentucky procured a 
boat and rowing all night arrived at Whitehall in the morning. 
They obtained passes, sold their blanket coats, procured a little 
money and traveled on foot to Albany. They rode part way 
down the Hudson river in a boat. Leaving the boat at Newburg 
they walked to Wyoming, Penn., with only a chance ride now 
and then. As they entered the house and the father caught a 
glimpse of their faces, he could not speak, they were returned to 
him as from the grave. This Roswell has a grandson living near 
the village of Aurora now." 

The above data are kindly furnished from family records by 
Mrs. Frank Benedict of Brockport, N. Y. 

Wyoming") speaks of "Rosewell" Franklin, but gives no account 
of the captivity of the boys. 

FRANKS, CHRISTOPHER. Found a prisoner at Fort Niagara when it 
surrendered to Sir William Johnson, July 25, 1759. 
N. Y. Mercury, Aug. 20, 1759. 

FRANKS, MICHAEL. Brother of the above, and was found a prisoner 
with him at Fort Niagara when the British took it. The Franks 
were natives of Bucks Co., Pa., but the details of their captivity 
are not known. 

FREELAND, MICHAEL. A youth, taken captive at Freeland's fort on 
Warrior Run, four miles east of present Watsontown, Pa., July 
29, I779- Accounts of the capture, as given by survivors or their 
descendants, do not agree; but the Indians appear to have been 
led by a British officer, Capt. McDonald. Of those carried into 
captivity were Michael Freeland, apparently a son of Jacob 
Freeland, who built the fort; and Benjamin Vincent, aged ten 
years. Among the prisoners were several adults, who are men- 
tioned as running the gauntlet at the Seneca village on Buffalo 
Creek; but their names seem to be unrecorded. Freeland and 
Vincent (q. v.) were brought to Buffalo Creek, and both appear 
to have been adopted by the Indians, after being accounted for 
at Fort Niagara. Vincent's adventures were extraordinary, and 
have been recorded by his nephew, Richard Peterson, who in 
1900 was living in Pasadena, Cal., aged 90 years. According 
to this authority, Freeland lived for many years in Western New 


York, just where is not specified. Thirty years after their cap- 
ture, Freeland wrote to Vincent, who was then in New Jersey, 
that one of his neighbors in Western New York was the Indian 
who had killed Vincent's brother and slapped the young Benja- 
min in the face with the scalp. As a sequel to this letter, Vin- 
cent appears to have taken a long-deferred vengeance on the 

"Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania," vol. ii ; narrative of Richard 
Peterson (nephew of Benjamin Vincent) in Los Angeles Herald 
about 1900. 

FREEMAN, ELIZABETH. Aged 17. Made captive by Indians, some- 
where in Pennsylvania, in July, 1782; sent with other prisoners, 
from Fort Niagara to Montreal, August, 1783. 
Haldimand MSS. 

FREEMAN, MARY. Aged 15. Same experience as Elizabeth Free- 
man ; presumably her sister, but no details of their captivity 

Haldimand MSS. 

FRIMIRE, JOHN. Taken captive about Sept. i, 1781, at Cobleskill, 
N. Y. His brother George was killed; but John, with George 
Fester, Abraham Bouck, a boy, John Nicholas, with Nicholas, 
Peter and William Utman, brothers, was carried over the old 
war-paths to Fort Niagara. 

GANZALEZ, IMMANUEL. Name doubtful, but so written; described as 
"member of committee, late magistrate," in a return of prisoners 
at Fort Niagara, May, 1780. 
Haldimand MSS. 

GARDINER, JOHN. Taken prisoner in Exeter, Pa., near the upper end 
of the Wyoming valley, June 30, 1778. Presumably sent to 
Niagara, with other prisoners of the Wyoming fights. 

GARLOCK, ADAM. Of Sharon, Schoharie Co., a fellow-prisoner of 
Peter Zimmer. Taken captive in July, 1782, but not long detained 
at Fort Niagara or elsewhere in Canada, for he reached home in 
December, 1782, from Boston, in company with Zimmer and 
William Bouck, the latter of whom had been carried captive to 
Fort Niagara in the summer of 1781. 

There appear to have been more than one Garlock captive at 
Fort Niagara at this period. The Haldimand MSS. mention 
"the Garlocks," or "the Garlock family," as being brought from 
Fort Niagara to Montreal, where they arrived Oct. 4, 1782. The 
Mattices were in the same party of captives, which numbered 
over fifty. 

GATCLIFFE family. Names, ages and number in family not stated. 
Made prisoners in Virginia, June 24. 1780. Arrived in Montreal 
from Fort Niagara, Oct. 4, 1782. 
Haldimand MSS. 

GILBERT, ABNER, aged 14, son of Benjamin Gilbert; taken with his 
father's family, April 25, 1780, on Mahoning Creek, Pa., and 


brought with the main party to within three miles of Fort Niag- 
ara; about the end of May, 1780, he and Elizabeth Gilbert, Jr., 
were adopted by John Huston, one of their captors; taken to 
the west side of the Niagara near the falls, where he lived till 
the autumn, working for Huston, with occasional visits to But- 
lersbury (Newark Niagara, Ont.), where his sister Elizabeth 
had been placed with John Secord's family. In the spring, 1781, 
Huston's family, taking Abner along, camped near Buffalo 
Creek; here Thomas Peart visited him. In July or August, 

1781, he was taken to Butlersbury, where the Huston family gave 
him over to John Secord ; with his sister Elizabeth he joined 
four others of the captives at Fort Niagara, and sailed for 
Montreal; thence home in August, 1782. 

Gilbert narrative as cited under "DoosoN, ABIGAIL/' 

GILBERT, BENJAMIN. Quaker, aged 69 years, taken at his home on 
Mahoning Creek, a few miles south of the present town of 
Mauch Chunk, Pa., April 25, 1780, by a band of Senecas led by 
Rowland Monteur. By way of the Susquehanna, Seneca Lake, 
Kanadesaga, Little Beardstown on the Genesee, and the Tona- 
wanda trail, brought to Fort Niagara, where he was surrendered 
to Col. Guy Johnson May 25th, just one month after being taken. 
Sailed from Fort Niagara June 4th, for Montreal ; died on the 
St. Lawrence June 8th, and was buried the next day at Coteau 
du Lac. 

GILBERT, BENJAMIN, Jr., aged n, a son of John Gilbert of Phila- 
delphia, nephew of Benjamin Gilbert, Sr., in whose family he 
was visiting when they were taken, April 25, 1780. Experiences 
the same as those of his cousin Rebecca Gilbert, with whom he 
was brought to Buffalo Creek, and with whom he was released 
in June, 1782, they being the last of the Gilbert captives to be set 
free. Joined the reunited family in Montreal, June n, 1782, 
reaching home with the rest, August, 1782. 

GILBERT, ELIZABETH, SR., second wife of Benjamin, aged 55 years. 
Same experience as her husband. After his death, June 8, 1780, 
she continued the journey to Montreal, with Jesse Gilbert and 
his wife Sarah; other members of the family subsequently 
joined them. Elizabeth found service as a household servant, 
and as a nurse, finally being allowed to leave Montreal, Aug. 22, 

1782, returning by way of Lake Champlain, Castleton, Vt., and 
the Hudson valley, etc., to her family at Byberry, near Phila- 
delphia, where she arrived Aug. 27, 1782. 

GILBERT, ELIZABETH, Jr., aged 12. Taken with her father's family, 
April 25, 1780. Near Niagara, was adopted by John Huston; 
taken to Butlersbury (Niagara, Ont.), where she was given over 
to the family of the Englishman, John Secord, with whom she 
lived until Abner's release, about August, 1781, when they joined 
other captives at the fort and sailed for Montreal, middle of 
August, 1781, with Joseph Gilbert, Benjamin and Elizabeth 
Peart and their child; ultimately reaching home, August, 1782. 
Of all the Gilbert captives the little Elizabeth was most favored 


in captivity, her sojourn with the Secords saving her from the 
hardships of Indian life. 

GILBERT, JESSE, son of Benjamin, aged 19. Same experience as his 
parents up to the arrival at Fort Niagara, May 25, 1780. There 
he obtained employment; went with British officers to a neigh- 
boring Indian town to try to procure release for his wife Sarah, 
detained by them, but without success; a few days later she 
was released and joined him at the fort. Jesse was urged by 
Col. Guy Johnson to enter the King's service, but refused; was 
sent to Montreal with his parents; there Jesse worked nine 
months for Thomas Buzby; returned to Pennsylvania with his 
mother and other members of the family, August, 1782. 

GILBERT, JOSEPH, son of Benjamin, aged 41. Same experience as his 
father after being taken up to May 4, 1780, when the captives were 
separated into two parties. Joseph Gilbert and Thomas Peart 
were taken up the Chemung (Cayuga Branch) and Conhocton 
and across to the Genesee at Nunda; then to Caracadera, ap- 
parently north of present Caneadea ; was adopted by the Senecas 
and invited to take a wife, but declined ; lived in melancholy 
captivity among them for three months ; journeyed to Fort 
Niagara with many Indians ; where he learned of his father's 
death, and lay sick for several days at Col. Guy Johnson's. He 
stayed at Fort Niagara about four weeks, then the Indians took 
him back to Caracadera ; during the ensuing winter was allowed 
to visit Thomas Peart at Nunda, seven miles distant; was taken 
back and worked for the Indians as well as his feeble health and 
lameness would permit; until midsummer, 1781, when a British 
officer from Fort Niagara visited him, and failing to secure his 
release, advised him to try to escape. He set out by night, 
when most of the men had gone hunting, and walked to Fort 
Niagara, about 130 miles, being nearly dead of hunger and ex- 
haustion on arrival. He soon after sailed for Montreal, ulti- 
mately returning home with his mother and the others. 

GILBERT, REBECCA. Aged 16, daughter of Benjamin. Taken with 
the rest of the family April 25, 1780, and brought with the main 
party to the Niagara. At Five Mile Meadows she and her cousin 
Benjamin Gilbert, Jr., were allotted to Rowland Monteur's wife, a 
daughter of the Old King, Sayenqueraghta. They were taken to 
the Landing (Lewiston), then to Fort Schlosser, thence by boat 
to Fort Erie, thence four miles up Buffalo Creek. Here Rebecca 
was detained, doing such work as her slight strength would per- 
mit, with an occasional visit to Fort Erie and Fort Niagara, until 
June 3, 1782, when she and the boy Benjamin they being the 
last of the Gilberts to be released and Thomas Peart sailed for 
Montreal. Eight days later they joined their relatives, return- 
ing to Pennsylvania with them, August, 1782. 

GILBERT, SARAH, aged 19, wife of Jesse. Same experience as the 
main Gilbert party, up to the point of separation, May 4th. She 
and Benjamin Gilbert, Jr., were again separated from Joseph 
Gilbert and Thomas Peart, and taken to Kanadesaga, where they 
met the main party, May 14, 1780. They continued together to 


Rowland Monteur's, near present Lewiston, where she was sep- 
arated from her husband, he being taken to Fort Niagara, while 
she was carried away by Indian women for adoption ; she was 
detained in their town near the fort for a few days, then allowed 
to go to the British. With her husband and his parents, she 
sailed for Montreal June 4, 1780. In Montreal she gave birth 
to a child; and returned to Pennsylvania with the others, in 
August, 1782. 

GIRTY, SIMON. This famous son of a notorious family, taken captive 
by Delawares and Shawanese in 1756, with others of the Girty 
family, was handed over to the Senecas, and may very likely have 
been taken by them to Fort Niagara. He lived among the Senecas 
for a considerable time. In 1786 he was at Niagara in attendance 
at a treaty between the Six Nations, the Shawanese and Wyan- 
dots, and the British. 

GREY, (Mrs.) JOHN. With her daughter, three years old, George 
Woods, Mrs. Francis Innis and three children, and others, she was 
made captive by Indians in the Tuscarora valley, near present 
Carlisle, Pa., in 1756. The prisoners were carried across the 
Alleghany to the old Indian town of Kitanning, thence to Fort 
Duquesne, where they were delivered over to the French. It is 
recorded that Woods took his captivity so lightly that on the 
way to that fort he proposed marriage to Mrs. Grey, whose hus- 
band had escaped the massacre at Bigham's Fort in the Tus- 
carora valley, when his wife was captured. Mrs. Grey and child 
were taken by Indians from Fort Duquesne to Canada, the invari- 
able route being to Fort Niagara and thence eastward. Mrs. 
Grey was detained in captivity, at what point is not stated, for 
about a year; when, by the connivance of some traders, she 
escaped and reached home in safety. The child remained with 
the Indians. 

Jones, "History of the Juniata Valley." 

GUTHRIE, (Ad ft.) . Taken on the Ohio, Aug. 24, 1781. From 

Fort Niagara sent to Montreal, November, 1781. 

HAGER, HENRY. An old man of 80 years, when he was taken by 
Brant in the great Schoharie raid of Aug. 9, 1780. He was 
brought with the Vroomans (q. v.) along the great southwestern 
trail the upper Schoharie valley, the Susquehanna and Genesee 
valleys to Fort Niagara. He was harshly treated all the way, 
because he was known as a prominent Whig; his son, Capt. 
Hager, and several grandsons, were in the "rebel" army. The 
Indians repeatedly struck the old man on the head with the flat 
side of their tomahawks. Despite his years and their abuse, he 
survived the journey to Niagara. With many others, he was 
sent down Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence, in batteaux. They 
reached Montreal about December ist; were confined during the 
winter at "an old French post, called South Rakela" [?], nine 
miles below Montreal; in the summer of 1781 Hager was 
exchanged, with other Schoharie prisoners, sent by vessel to the 


head of Lake Champlain, whence he made his way home, on foot 
via Saratoga, after an absence of eighteen months. 
Simms, "Schoharie County." 

HAINES, HENRY. Resident in the Schoharie valley. Taken captive 
subsequent to October, 1780. Details of captivity not learned, 
but apparently to be included among the Niagara captives. 

HALL, (Lieut.) . Made prisoner on the Ohio, Aug. 24, 1781. 

Brought to Fort Niagara and shipped on with thirty others to 
Montreal, arriving there Nov. 28, 1781. 
Haldimand MSS. 

HARMETSEN, FREDRYCH. Taken by the French on Lake Huron, with 
Maj. Patrick McGregory and Johannes Rooseboom (q. v.) and 
brought to Niagara, June, 1687. After being detained at Cata- 
raqui, Montreal and Quebec, Fredrych and Nanning Harmetsen 
and Dyrick van der Hyder made their escape, reaching Albany 
in five days from Quebec. 
N. Y. Col. Docs. 

HARMETSEN, NANNING. Shared the experiences of Fredrych Har- 

HARPER, (Capt.) ALEXANDER. Was in command of a small company 
of men, about thirty miles from the Schoharie fort, April 7, 1780, 
when they were surrounded by forty-three Indians led by Joseph 
Brant, and seven tories. Harper saved himself from the toma- 
hawk by telling Brant there were 300 soldiers lately arrived at 
the fort, a fiction which probably saved his life and that of the 
fourteen men with him, since it induced Brant to start with his 
prisoners for Niagara. The next morning he was closely ques- 
tioned again, and again deceived the chief. Corn was had from 
a tory, one Samuel Clockstone ; and the expedition passed down 
the Delaware to Cook House (near Deposit, N. Y.), on the way 
taking one Brown and his two grandsons, the old man soon 
being killed and scalped; they crossed to the Susquehanna, and 
went up the Chemung. Near Tioga Point they encountered 
two Indians, John Mohawk and Chief English, the only sur- 
vivors of the war party of eleven which had been killed as they 
slept, a few nights previous, by their prisoners Moses Van 
Campen and Pence. This news made a critical time for Har- 
per and his fellow prisoners, but they were spared and carried 
on westward. At New Town (Elmira) they found the remains 
of a horse which wolves had partly devoured, and there they 
feasted. Past Painted Post and over the high land north of 
Sullivan's route, between the Chemung and the lakes, they 
crossed to the Genesee, where they all escaped starvation a 
second time by killing and eating a horse. From the Genesee 
flats a runner was sent to Niagara with word of their approach, 
and by Brant's orders many of the warriors encamped there were 
drawn away to Nine Mile Landing, under impression that they 
would meet him with the prisoners there. This was done out of 
regard for Capt. Harper, who had to run the gauntlet at Niagara, 
but for whom Brant wished to make the ordeal as light as pos- 


sible, for Harper was the uncle of Jane Moore, a prisoner from 
Cherry Valley, who at Fort Niagara had been courted and mar- 
ried by Capt. Powell of the British army; and who with his wife, 
welcomed Harper, once he was safe in the fort. From Niagara 
Capt. Harper and many other captives were sent to Carleton Isl- 
and, down the river to the Cedars, and after many removes to 
the prison at Chambly ; he appears to have been kept there some 
two years, then transferred to Quebec, sent by ship to Boston, 
thence returning home. 

There are numerous accounts of Capt. Harper's captivity. 
See Campbell's "Annals of Tryon County," N. Y., 1831 ; Simms' 
"History of Schoharie County, and Border Wars of New York," 
Albany, 1845; and various later prints. Simms speaks of Harper 
as "lieutenant" at this time. He should not be confused with 
Col. John Harper. 

HARRIS, MARY. One of several children carried away captive from 
Deerfield, Mass., 1703. She was carried to the country south of 
Lake Erie, by what route is not known. In 1750 the traders 
Christopher Gist and George Croghan, with the interpreter 
Andrew Monteur, found her living on a tributary of the Mus- 
kingum, which has ever since been called in her memory, White 
Woman's Creek. She had an Indian husband and a family oi 
half-breeds. "She still remembers," says Gist, "that they used 
to be very religious in New England, and wonders how white 
men can be so wicked as she has seen them in these woods." Six 
years later Robert Eastburn, a prisoner in the hands of the 
French, found her at "Cohnewago" (Caughnawaga), near Mon- 
treal ; she told him of her captivity, "and was kind." The known 
conditions of the time make it reasonably certain that she trav- 
eled from White Woman's Creek to Montreal by way of the 
Niagara. She was probably at Fort Niagara and on our river 
more than once, with her adopted people. She had a son who 
was a captain in the French interest. 

Gist, quoted by Parkman ; Robert Eastburn's Narrative. 


HAVERSTRAW, (Miss) . Taken captive with another Dutch girl 

named Lizzie , probably in the Mohawk valley, place and 

time not known. They were carried to Fort Niagara by a band 
of Senecas with whom was the Welsh boy, David Price (q. v.), 
whose adventures in captivity have been recorded by D. D. Bab- 
cock, formerly of Welland, Ont. 

HAWKINS, . Taken by Brant near Fort Stanwix, March 2, 

1781, with David Ogden, Samuel Betts and others, and brought 
to Fort Niagara, where he ran the gauntlet. See OGDEN, DAVID, 
and BETTS, (Corporal) SAMUEL. As their party drew near Fort 
Niagara, Ogden and Hawkins, to escape the beating of Indians 
along the road, fled together tqward the fort, then some three 
miles distant. In passing a Seneca camp near the Five Mile 
bridge, two Indians took after the boys, but after a hard run 
showed them that they were friendly, and went on with them. 


There is no trace of Hawkins after he reached the fort; he was 
probably shipped down to Montreal. 

Priest's "True Narrative of the capture of David Ogden," 
Lansingburgh, 1840; Severance's "Old Trails on the Niagara 

HECKEWELDER, MARY. Daughter of Rev. John Heckewelder, a 
famous Moravian missionary. She was born April 16, 1781, in 
Salem, one of the Moravian Indian towns on the Muskingum, 
and was the first white child born in what is now the State of 
Ohio. In September, 1781, several of the missionaries, her mother 
and herself were taken prisoners by the Hurons, and carried to 
Upper Sandusky, the infant Mary being "carried by an Indian 
woman wrapped in a blanket on her back." They nearly starved, 
in the Indian huts during the winter. In the spring the English 
commanded the Indians to bring their prisoners to Detroit, which 
they reached about the middle of April. The Indian converts 
built a new settlement about thirty miles from Detroit, on the 
Huron River, which was called New Gnadenhutten. Here Mary 
lived until 1785 when an aged missionary couple took her to be 
educated at Bethlehem. They were at Fort Niagara about June 
ist, traveling thence by way of Lake Ontario to Oswego, the 
Mohawk and Hudson rivers. 

Mary Heckewelder's own narrative in the American Pioneer 
(Cincinnati), 1843. 

HEMPFERMAN, REBECCA. Taken as a child during the Revolution; 
adopted and reared by the Senecas ; at the Buffalo Creek mis- 
sion, Dec. 4, 1820, was married to Thomas Armstrong, white man, 
who like herself had been taken captive in childhood and reared 
among the Senecas. 

Buf. Hist. Soc. Pubs., vol. vi. 

HENDRY, JOHN. Taken captive at Harpersfield, N. Y., April 8, 1780, 
when his father Thomas Hendry and elder brother James, were 
tomahawked and scalped. Was brought to Fort Niagara with 
Capt. Alexander Harper and a numerous party of captives. Ac- 
cording to an old tombstone in Harpersfield burying-ground, he 
died a prisoner in Quebec. 

HENRY, ALEXANDER. Born in New Jersey, August, 1739. Engaged 
in the fur trade, 1760; went by way of the Ottawa, from Mon- 
treal to Mackinac, 1761 ; was taken prisoner by the Chippewas 
at the massacre at Fort Michilimackinac, June 4, 1763, and carried 
to the Beaver Islands, Lake Michigan ; was rescued by Ottawas, 
restored to the Chippewas, and had many adventures. In June, 
1764, he came from the Sault Sainte Marie with sixteen Indians, 
to Fort Niagara, to attend a great council called by Sir William 
Johnson. At Niagara, June 22d, Henry found Gen. Bradstreet 
with his army of 3,000 men, destined for Detroit. He was given 1 
command of a corps of 96 Indians, but on July loth, when the 
army marched for Fort Schlosser, only ten of the red men obeyed 
orders, and these deserted the next day. Henry shared the adven- 


tures of the Detroit campaign, after it returning to his trading 
interests at Mackinac. 

"Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Terri- 
tories, between the years 1760 and 1776," etc., by Alexander 
Henry, New York, 1809; new ed., Toronto, 1901. See also Park- 
man's "Conspiracy of Pontiac." 

HENRY, WILLIAM. A prisoner among the Seneca Indians, 1755-1762 
or '63, probably in Western New York, though no details of his 
captivity are known. In 1766 a book of 160 pages was published 
in Boston entitled: "Account of the Captivity of William 
Henry in 1755, and of his residence among the Senneka Indians 
six years and seven months, till he made his escape from them." 
This is the work of which James Bain says, in his introduction 
to the 1901 edition of Alexander Henry's "Travels and Adven- 
tures" : "Of this book no copy seems to be known. It cannot 
be traced in the catalogues of any of the great American or Eng- 
lish libraries, and is not to be found in the bibliographies of 
Sabin, Rich, Field or Pilling. Of William Henry we only know 
that he was a trader with the Ohio Indians, and was made pris- 
oner by the Senecas, and in the absence of his book have no 
means of tracing him." The chief if not the sole source of infor- 
mation is extracts from his book given in the London Chronicle 
of June 23 and 25, 1768. In these extracts are allusions to the 
Mohawks, Onondagas, Oneidas, Cayugas and Senecas, but noth- 
ing which fixes the place of Henry's abode. The discovery of a 
copy of his book might add a narrative of high importance to the 
chronicles of our region. Mr. Bain concludes plausibly that 
William Henry was a near relative, perhaps uncle, of Alexander 
Henry, whose adventures as trader and prisoner are well known. 

HENRY, THOMAS (afterwards major). Taken by Brant on the 
Schoharie, April 7, 1780, in Capt. Alexander Harper's party. 
Same experiences, so far as known, as the rest of that company. 
A brother of James Henry, also a prisoner at Fort Niagara. See 

HENRY, JAMES. Taken by Brant on the Schoharie, April 7, 1780. 
In Capt. Alexander Harper's party. Same experiences as the 
rest of the party. 

HEYSHAM, MOLLY. Made captive "at the Blue Mountains," prob- 
ably in Virginia, about 1755. She was found at Fort Niagara, 
with numerous other prisoners, when it surrendered to the Brit- 
ish, July 25, 1759, and was no doubt sent to New York, by way 
of Oswego, with the other rescued prisoners of the French and 
the surrendered garrison, which included a number of French 
women and children. 

HINE, PHILIP. Taken prisoner at Wawarsink, N. Y., Aug. 12, 1781, 
with Silas Bouck, and apparently shared his adventures as far 
as Fort Niagara. Bouck was sent from there to Montreal as 
prisoner, but Hine volunteered to serve in the British army. He 
soon returned home and was said to have deserted from the 
British. See BOUCK, SILAS. 


HINTON, WILLIAM. Taken in 1781 with three campanions on the 
Ohio; sent from Fort Niagara April 23, 1781, to Quebec. 
Haldimand MSS. 

HOFFMAN, . A Schoharie-valley German, captured with 

the Vroomans and others, Aug. 9, 1780, and brought to Fort 

HOSKINS, EDWARD. Captured "on the borders of New England" 
about 1749, and remained a captive of the French or the Indians 
for some ten years. When the British captured Fort Niagara, 
July 25, 1759, Hoskins was found confined there among other 
prisoners. His captivity is the longest of which we find mention 
in connection with Fort Niagara excepting of course, the many 
cases of those who were adopted and remained permanently with 
the Indians, which could not be regarded as continuous captivity. 
N. Y. Mercury, Aug. 20, 1759. 

HOUSER, SMITH. Captive among the Senecas with Horatio Jones. 
See Buf. Hist. Soc. Pubs., vol. vi, pp. 450-455. 

HUNT, ELISHA. Captive among the Senecas with Horatio Jones, 
and probably brought to Niagara with Houser and others in 1782. 
See "Life of Horatio Jones," Buf. Hist. Soc. Pubs., vol. vi. 

HUNTER, (Ensign) . Taken on the Ohio, Aug. 24, 1781. 

From Fort Niagara sent to Montreal, Nov. 1781. 
Haldimand MSS. 

HYNES, CATHERINE. Oldest daughter of William Hynds (q. v.) ; 
shared his captivity at Fort Niagara in 1780. 

HYNDS, ELIZABETH. Third daughter of William Hynds. Captive 
with the family at Fort Niagara in 1780; died at Buck's Island. 

HYNDS, HENRY. Oldest son of William Hynds, and shared his cap- 
tivity in 1780, returning home with his father and sister Catha- 
rine in 1783. It was from Henry that the story of their captivity 
was learned. 

HYNDS, LANA. Child of William Hynds. Died in captivity at Mon- 
treal, 1780 or '81. 

HYNDS, MARY. Brought to Fort Niagara with her father's family, 
1780; adopted by an Indian family and lived with them until 1785 
or '86, finally returning home. 

HYNDS, WILLIAM, and family. His wife, daughters Catharine, Mary, 
Elizabeth, Lana, sons Henry and William, and an infant, were 
surprised at their home in New Dorlach, on July 5, 1780, as they 
sat at dinner, by a party of seven Indians led by a white man, 
Capt. Adam Crysler. The house was isolated, with no friendly 
neighbors near enough to render aid, or even to know of the 
capture. Hynds was bound, his son Henry made to catch their 
four horses; Mrs. Hynds and youngest children were seated on 
one, the other three were laden with plunder from the house. 
A forced march was made to the westward. The larger children 


tramped barefoot all the way. The Indians killed a deer, several 
muskrats, otters and other small game, which were eaten with 
ashes in lieu of salt. In passing through Indian villages, the 
usual abuse was bestowed upon them; on one occasion William 
Hynds was knocked down by a blow on the head with a bottle. 
At Fort Niagara most of the family became ill with fever and 
ague, of which William the son died. Mary, about 14 years old, 
was adopted by an Indian family, and detained in Canada for 
three years. In the fall of 1780 the rest of the family were sent 
down Lake Ontario to Bucks Island, where Elizabeth died. The 
family was later sent on to Montreal, where Lana, the youngest 
child but one, died, Soon after, Mrs. Hynds and her infant died. 
After two and a half years of captivity, William Hynds, his son 
Henry and daughter Catharine, with nearly 300 other prisoners, 
returned home by the usual Champlain and Hudson-river route. 
Henry Hynds in 1837 related the facts of this captivity to 
Jeptha R. Simms, who preserved them in his "History of Scho- 
harie County and Border Wars of New York," Albany, 1845. 

HYNDS, WILLIAM, Jr. Brought to Niagara captive with his father's 
family, and died there in the summer of 1780. 

HYNDS, (Mrs.) WILLIAM. Shared her husband's captivity at Fort 
Niagara ; buried four children, and "with constitution undermined 
by the accumulating load of her mental and bodily sufferings," 
died at Montreal, late in 1780. 

INNIS, FRANCIS, wife and children. Made prisoners by the Indians 
in the Tuscarora valley, Pa., 1756, with Mrs. John Grey (q. v) 
and others. They were carried to Fort Duquesne, then to Canada, 
apparently by way of Fort Niagara. Innis remained among the 
Indians until the treaty of 1764. His wife and two children 
escaped, a third child being put to death by .the Indians. 

Jones, "History of the Juniata Valley." "Frontier Forts of 

IRWIN, LUKE. Shared the misfortunes of Thomas Bourke (q. y). 
Irwin appears to have been the leader of the band of Englisji 
traders who fell into the hands of the French near Sandusky, and 
were brought to Fort Niagara in 1751. 

JEMISON, MARY. Born on shipboard, 1742 or '43; taken prisoner in 
the spring of 1755, on her father's farm on Marsh Creek, Pa.; 
carried by Shawanese down the Ohio ; was adopted, married and 
lived at various places; came to Little Beard's Town (Cuyler- 
ville) in the Genesee valley, in 1759; the next year John Van 
Sice offered to take her to Fort Niagara, that she might be set 
free, but Mary refused, and hid for three days; other prisoners 
were taken to the fort at this time and handed over to the British, 
but Mary was allowed to stay. She re-married, her first husband 
being dead. She resided on the Genesee until 1831, when she 
removed to the Buffalo Creek Reservation (Buffalo), where she 
died in September, 1833. In 1874 her remains were taken from 
Buffalo to Glen Iris, the grounds of the Hon. Wm. P. Letchworth 
near Portage, N. Y. As she was identified with the Indians 


friendly to the British throughout the Revolution she was no 
doubt more than once at Fort Niagara, though she did not flee 
there at the time of Sullivan's raid. She went with the Indian 
women and children to Stony Creek (which empties into the 
Tonawanda at Varysburg, Wyoming County), and after the army 
had withdrawn hired out to husk corn for negroes at Gardeau 
Flats, where she continued to live, a valuable tract there being 
deeded to her by the Six Nations. 

"A Narrative of the Life of Mary Jemison," by James E. 
Seaver, Canandaigua, 1824, and subsequent eds. Buf. Hist. Soc. 
Pubs., vol. vii. 

JENKINS, (Lieut.) JOHN. Was in command of a scouting party 
which in the summer of 1777 advanced from the Wyoming 
valley up the Susquehanna to Wyalusing, where he, Lemuel (or 
"Elemuel") Fitch, a Mr. Yorke and an old man named Fitz- 
gerald, were taken prisoners by tories and Indians. Fitzger- 
ald was subsequently released, the others taken to Canada by 
way of Fort Niagara. Miner's "History of Wyoming" says of 
Jenkins' captivity: "As Lieut. Jenkins was himself an active 
officer, and the son of one of the most distinguished men in 
Wyoming, the father having several times been chosen Member 
of Assembly, a proposal was made and accepted to exchange him 
for an Indian chief, then a prisoner in Albany. Under an Indian 
escort he was sent to that city, and when they arrived, it was 
found that the chief had recently died of the small-pox. The 
rage of the young Indians, who had escorted him, could scarcely 
be restrained. They would have tomahawked Lieut. Jenkins on 
the spot, had they not been forcibly prevented. They demanded 
that he should return with them. To have done so, would have 
been exposing him to certain death, probably lingering torture. 
But he was released, and instantly repaired to his post of duty." 
Lieut. Jenkins and his companions were the first prisoners taken 
from Wyoming. 

JENKINS, JOHN, Jr. A collector of taxes, was captured by a band 
of British or tories, and Indians, near Standingstone on the Sus- 
quehanna, in November, 1777, with Elemuel Fitch and a Mr. 
York (or Yorke). They were brought to Niagara, and sent to 
Montreal; Jenkins being there exchanged or paroled, returning 
home in June, 1778. 

JOHNSTON, CHARLES, of Botetourt County, Va., made prisoner by 
the Indians on the Ohio, near the junction of the Scioto, March 
20, 1790, the boat in which he was traveling being decoyed ashore 
by white men, who cried for rescue from the Indians a common 
device. The captors included Shawanese, Delawares, Wyandots 
and Cherokees. One of his companions, William Flinn, was 
subsequently burned at the stake. After traveling in captivity 
for a time Johnston was given to a Mingo, carried to the Indian 
town at Upper Sandusky, where on April 28, 1790, the prisoner's 
twenty-first birthday, he was bought of the Indians by Francis 
Duchouquet, a Canadian trader, who paid 600 silver brooches for 
him, worth about $100. After some weeks he was taken to 


Detroit, and on June 22, 1790, Major Patrick Murray of the 6oth 
Regiment, commanding at Detroit, turned him over to Capt. 
Cowan of the sloop Felicity, bound for Fort Erie, whence he 
proceeded to Fort Schlosser. With the commandant of that 
post he visited Niagara Falls, then walked to Fort Niagara, 
where he was, he says, rudely received by Col. John Rodolphus 
Harris, the British commandant. Capt. Lethbridge of the garri- 
son befriended him. After some days, with Mrs. Forsyth and 
her son of Detroit, he set out in an open boat for Oswego, a 
journey of six days; whence by way of Oneida Lake and the 
Mohawk route, he reached his home in Virginia. 

"A Narrative of the incidents attending the capture, detention 
and ransom of Charles Johnston," etc., New York, 1827. Also 
told, with many errors, in the Due de Liancourt's "Travels." 

JONCAIRE, Louis THOMAS (Sieur de Chabert). A captive of the 
Indians in his youth, he was in later years chiefly instrumental in 
bringing about the building of Fort Niagara, of which he was for 
a time commandant, and with the early history of which no man 
was more closely connected. He died at Fort Niagara in 1739. 

JONCAIRE, PHILIPPE THOMAS (Sieur de Chabert). In the regiment 
of Guienne, prisoner of war at Fort Niagara, July 25, 1759, with 
Pouchot, q. v. 

JONCAIRE, DANIEL (Sieur de Chabert et Clausonne). Captain, pris- 
oner of war at Fort Niagara, July 25, 1759, with Pouchot, q. v. 

JONES, HORATIO. Born November, 1763; taken prisoner, June 3, 
1781, by a British-Indian expedition near Hart's Log on the 
Juniata ; ran the gauntlet at Caneadea ; was adopted by the Sen- 
ecas; went to Fort Niagara with his adoptive Seneca family in 
the summer of 1781, and there met Jasper Parrish; was at Fort 
Niagara again in 1782, to get traders' goods; lived with the Sen- 
ecas on the Genesee, 1781 -December, 1784, when he was liberated 
at Fort Stanwix. He settled first on Seneca Lake, then on the 
Genesee near present Geneseo; he served as interpreter at many 
important councils and treaties, and was U. S. interpreter for 
many years. He died in 1836, and is buried at Geneseo. 

"The Life of Horatio Jones," by George H. Harris and Frank 
H. Severance; vol. vi., Buf. Hist. Soc. Pubs. 

KEITH, THOMAS. With his young bride, came from Europe in 1794, 
landing at Baltimore ; settled at Newport, R. I., then traveled up 
the Mohawk, prospecting; visited "Ranogahara" ( ?Canojoharie), 
Geneva, "Chenessee" river, Niagara Falls; visited Fort Niagara, 
and briefly describes the falls, etc. In August, 1795, traveling 
with wife and child down the Ohio, they were decoyed ashore 
by Indians and held prisoners, finally escaping through the arrival 
of another party which killed some of the Indians and made the 
rest run away. Keith returned to New England, where he was 
regarded as a spy; subsequently sailed to England and settled in 
Ireland. The account of his American adventures reads like 
fiction, and poor fiction at that; it may have some foundation 
in fact, but is without value to the student. 


"Struggles of Capt. Thomas Keith in America, including the 
manner in which he, his wife and child, were decoyed by the 
Indians ; their temporary Captivity, and Happy Deliverance," 
etc., London, 1808. 

KELLER, RUDOLF. A memorable raid in the Mohawk valley was that 
of October 24th and succeeding days, 1781. A party stated by 
Simms in his "History of Schoharie County" to consist of nearly 
700 British and royalist troops under Maj. Ross and Maj. Walter 
Butler, passed through many of the Mohawk river settlements, 
burning, killing and taking captives. Among the latter were 
Rudolf Keller, Jacob Tanner, Frederick Utman and Michael 
Stowits of Curry Town ; John Wood of Stone Ridge ; Evart Van 
Epps, who lived at "Van Epps' Swamp," where the present vil- 
liage of Fultonville stands ; and Capt. Zielie, taken near Johnson 
Hall. Of many others taken in this raid, all of the women were 
liberated, some escaped and some were killed. The above-named, 
and probably many others whose names have not been learned, 
were brought captive to Fort Niagara. It was in this affair that 
Walter Butler was killed. The return of Maj. Ross and his 
party was an experience of great hardship. They were seven- 
teen days in reaching Genesee valley towns, where some of 
the prisoners wintered, being taken to Fort Niagara in March, 
1782. On arriving at Niagara Keller was sold, "and one Coun- 
tryman, a native of the Mohawk valley, then an officer in the 
British service, was his purchaser." In June, 1782, Keller was 
sent to Rebel Island, near Montreal; in November, to Halifax; 
thence to Boston, where he was exchanged. Without money, he 
walked from Boston to his old home on the Mohawk, reaching 
his family in Minden, near Fort Plain, whither they had removed 
in his absence, Dec. 24, 1782. 

KERKER, JACOB. Shared the experiences of Lieut. Jacob Borst, q. v. 
While Borst was dying of consumption at Fort Niagara, Kerker, 
who was confined with him, acted as his nurse. Kerker's sub- 
sequent adventures are not known. It is not unlikely that he was 
sent down the St. Lawrence with his fellow captive, William 
Kneiskern, q. v. 

KESSIN (?), MENASSIAH. Name obscurely written in original. Was 
a private soldier, taken captive with Quartermaster Wallace and 
six others at the Falls of the Ohio (near present Louisville), 
Sept. 14, 1781. He had previously been captured at Fort Stanwix, 
in 1777. Was sent to Fort Niagara, and forwarded to Montreal, 
reaching there Nov. 28, 1781. 
Haldimand MSS. 

KILGORE, RALPH. Some time in 1750, Ralph Kilgore and Morris 
Turner, two men in the employ of John Fraser, a Lancaster 
County, Pa., trader, who had bought more skins from Miami 
Indians than their horses could carry, were returning from Logs- 
town for a second load, when seven Indians came into their 
camp one evening a little after sunset. They asked for victuals, 
and when meat was given them, they dressed and ate it in a 


friendly manner. After their appetites were satisfied they com- 
menced examining the traders' guns, apparently from curiosity; 
one picked up a tomahawk, and others asked for knives to cut 
their tobacco. Immediately the two traders were seized and 
securely tied. The Indians then hurried their prisoners off 
toward Detroit, which at that time contained about 150 houses, 
securely stockaded. The prisoners were delivered to the com- 
mander, and the Indians received a lo-gallon keg of brandy and 
loo pounds of tobacco as a reward. The commander placed these 
two traders with a farmer living about a mile from the town. 
Here they were compelled to hoe corn and reap wheat. The 
Indians frequently came to see them, and acted in a very insolent 
manner, taunting them and calling them dogs, and declaring 
that they were going down to the Wabash after more traders. 
The prisoners were detained three months at this farmer's house, 
when the commander at the fort was changed and they were 
sent to Canada. At Fort Niagara they met the chief French 
interpreter, Joncaire. He was taking a large present to the 
Indians in Ohio. The prisoners saw the goods spread out on the 
river bank, and estimated them to be worth 1,500. The pris- 
oners also learned that a reward of 1,000 had been offered for 
the scalps of George Croghan and James Lowery, whom they 
considered the most influential and injurious among the Pennsyl- 
vania traders. While following the shores of Lake Ontario, the 
prisoners made their escape. 

The depositions of Kilgore and Turner are summarized in 
Walton's "Conrad Weiser and the Indian Policy of Colonial 
Pennsylvania," pp. 241-242. 

KNEISKERN, WILLIAM. Taken captive at Sharon in the Schoharie 
valley in October, 1781, with Lieut. Jacob Borst, q. v. Borst died 
of consumption at Fort Niagara. Kneiskern was sent to an 
island probably Buck's Island in the St. Lawrence, from which 
he one night escaped, with several other prisoners. "They dug 
out beneath the pickets which enclosed the fort where they were 
confined, made a raft on which they floated down the river; and 
one of the party, from fear the raft might not be sufficient to 
carry them in safety, swam eight or nine miles with but little 
support, his clothes being upon it, to where they effected a land- 
ing on the American shore. After incredible hardships in the 
forest, living on birch bark, roots, etc., they arrived in safety 
among friends, where their wants were supplied, and they reached 
their homes." 

Simms, "Schoharie County." 

LAFARGE, ROBERT. Aged 65. Taken prisoner in Pennsylvania in 
1777; sent from Fort Niagara to Montreal in August, 1783. 
Haldimand MSS. 

LAFFERTY, DANIEL. Of Monteur's company; at battle of Great 
Meadows, July 4, 1754, taken by Indians friendly to the French; 
sent by way of Fort Niagara to Canada. 
Stobo's "Memoirs." 


LAMB, WILLIAM. Made captive near Harpersfield, N. Y., April 8, 
1780. He appears to have shared the fortunes of Capt. Alex- 
ander Harper and a large party of prisoners, who were brought 
through to Fort Niagara at this time. 

Jay Gould's "History of Delaware County." 

LAMB, . Son of the above, taken captive with him. So 

far as known, shared his experiences. 

L'ARMINAC, Le Chevalier de, Lieutenant of the Marine (Fr.), pris- 
oner of war at Fort Niagara, July 25, 1759, with Pouchot, q. v. 

LESTER, ELIZABETH STONE. The following narrative is furnished to 
the present compiler by Mrs. Frank Benedict of Brockport, N. Y., 
a great-granddaughter of the captive : 

"Elizabeth Stone was born at Litchfield. Conn., in 1743. She 
married a Mr. Lester and they moved to Wyoming, Pennsylvania, 
about 1770. They lived through the massacre of Wyoming, but 
scarcely a month had passed when a band of Indians made an 
attack upon their home, killing Mr. Lester and carrying off Mrs. 
Lester and her three children. The eldest, a boy four years old, 
they killed because he cried for his mother; and little Hannah, 
nearly three, was taken to Canada and adopted by an old Indian 
queen, with whom she lived nine years. There was also a little 

"The Indians with their prisoners came north into the lake 
country or Genesee valley, where they had corn and other grains 
planted. Mrs. Lester said they tried to teach her to hoe corn, 
but she was determined not to do such work and always cut it 
off or hoed it up, and at last they gave up trying to teach her. 

"She being skillful with her needle, they kept her busy with 
sewing. In some way they had gotten a coat which was trimmed 
with white cotton fringe and they admired it very much. Mrs. 
Lester made a coat after this pattern, making the fringe by 
raveling out some factory. The Indians were so pleased with 
this that they thought her almost a wonder. 

"How long Mrs. Lester was with the Indians I do not know, 
but the Indians hearing that a detachment of the American army 
were in pursuit of them, left their camping-ground and hurried 
away to Canada. 

"Mrs. Lester and baby both being sick, they were left behind. 
She overheard the Indians say, 'Let us kill her/ but an old squaw 
said, 'No, leave her in the woods and if she lives she lives and 
if she dies she dies.' 

"As soon as the Indians were out of sight and well on their 
journey, Mrs. Lester turned her face towards the approaching 
army, following the trail back as nearly as she could remember. 
Sleeping in the woods and on the bank of the river, living upon 
berries and roots, she hurried along, meeting the army the third 
day. As she wore an Indian blanket they, thinking her a squaw, 
concluded to shoot her, but she made gestures to them, and they 
waited to see what she wanted. She told them her story and 
one of the soldiers knew of the family and so the men believed 
what she told them. 


"The Indians were so far in advance that there was no hope 
of overtaking them, so the army turned back, taking Mrs. Lester 
and baby with them. They gave her a horse to ride, but the 
motion making the baby worse, one of the soldiers walked by 
the side of the horse carrying the little one in his arms all day. 
The next day the baby died. The poor mother's heart was torn 
with grief as she thought of leaving the little body in the woods 
to be eaten by wild animals, but the soldiers stopped, unasked, 
and peeling the bark from a birch tree they laid the little dead 
baby in it and buried it in the wilderness. This thoughtful kind- 
ness was a great comfort to the mother. 

"On reaching Wyoming Mrs. Lester had nothing to keep her 
there home, husband and children being gone; so alone and on 
horseback she returned to Litchfield, Conn. The next year she 
came back to Wyoming, hoping to hear something of her little 
Hannah from returning prisoners. In 1782 Mrs. Lester married 
Mr. Roswell Franklin, brother of Colonel John Franklin. Mr. 
Roswell Franklin's first wife was taken prisoner and killed by 
the Indians in 1781. After the close of the war they heard that 
there were some white children prisoners in Canada. Mr. and 
Mrs. Franklin went to Niagara feeling sure that a little girl who 
had been adopted by an old Indian queen was Mrs. Franklin's 
little Hannah. The British officer knowing if Mr. and Mrs. 
Franklin went for the child themselves that she would be hidden 
away, kept them at the fort and sent for the 'queen' to come 
down. She came, and he told her she would be obliged to give 
up the child, and that she could take anything in the store that 
she wished. She was kept there, while Mr. Franklin and some 
other men went for Hannah. 

"They found her sick, very sick, for the news had preceded 
them. Finding that there was no use of arguing with the Indians, 
Mr. Franklin told them that he should 'take the child dead or 
alive to her mother.' Hannah did not know that she was not an 
Indian child, but said she knew that she was different, and my 
grandmother told us that none of Mr. Franklin's own children 
loved him more than did Hannah Lester. 

"About the year 1789 Mr. Franklin and family moved into 
the lake country of New York State. Coming up Cayuga Lake 
in a boat, they landed near the spot now occupied by the village 
of Aurora. Here they were a little secluded band of settlers, for 
not a human soul, Indian or white man, was living there at that 
time, and today you will find Franklins occupying some of the 
same ground. Mrs. Franklin had three children by Mr. Franklin, 
Rhoda, the youngest, was my grandmother, she married Simeon 
Benedict in 1804 and they moved to Brockport, Monroe County, 
New York, in 1830, bringing Mrs. Franklin, her mother, with 
them. Mr. Franklin died in 1792, but Mrs. Franklin lived to be 
ninety-six years old." 

The compiler is not aware of any published account of Mrs. 
Lester's captivity. The American army referred to is obviously 
Sullivan's, Miner, in his "History of Wyoming," describing the 
advance of Sullivan, says (p. 272) : "At Kanadia, on the 5th 
of September, Mr. Luke Swetland, . . . who had been taken 


prisoner the year previous, was relieved from captivity. At 
Canandaigua, on the 7th, a white child was found, indeed an 
orphan, without knowledge of its parents. We regret our inabil- 
ity to record its fate. A few days after, a woman who had been 
taken at Wyoming, came into the army, with a child in her arms 
of seven or eight months old. Her name we have not been able 
to learn." It is probable, as appears from the foregoing account, 
that this woman was Elizabeth Stone Lester. 

LESTER, HANNAH. See the above account. The "Indian queen" 
with whom Hannah lived was, plausibly, Catharine Monteur. If 
the child's captivity lasted, as stated, for nine years, her release 
did not come until 1787, an exceptionally late date. 

LEWIS, (Sergt.) JOHN. Taken captive Oct. 24, 1781, near Argusville, 
N. Y., by British and Indians under Maj. Ross and Walter 
Butler; was a sergeant in Capt. Robert Yates' company of militia. 
Was apparently sent to Western New York with Jacob Tanner, 
Rudolf Keller and others. Some of the party wintered in the 
Genesee valley with the Senecas, and were taken to Fort Niagara, 
in March, 1782. The captivity of Lewis ended November, 1782. 
He died 1833. 

Data supplied by Mr. John C. Pearson, Cleveland, O. ; MS. 
records, vol. x, fol. 197, Comptroller's office, Albany. 

LOCKERMAN, CHRISTOPH. Aged 30. Taken in Pennsylvania in 1778; 
sent from Fort Niagara to Montreal, August, 1783. 
Haldimand MSS. 

LYONS, (Lieut.) ROBERT. An officer in the Continental army, men- 
tioned in a "return of prisoners taken and brot into Niagara" 
from April ist to May 12, 1780. Of sixty-eight captives, twenty- 
two were killed, five escaped, thirteen were brought to Niagara 
and sent down to Montreal, two enlisted in the Rangers ; twenty- 
one were women. When the report quoted from was made, 
Lieut. Lyons still remained a prisoner at Niagara. 
Haldimand MSS. 

McBRiAR, ANDREW. Taken at Gist's (near Fort Necessity) by an 
Indian named English John, July, 1754. Carried to Canada by 
way of Venango, Le Boeuf and Fort Niagara. 
Stobo's "Memoirs." 

MCCARTHY, JAMES. Taken by Capt. Bird at Licking Creek, Aug. 
6, 1781 ; with Jas. Beatles and Jas. Ruddelle was brought to Fort 
Niagara. In November, 1781, with other prisoners taken in Vir- 
ginia, Pennsylvania and on the Ohio, thirty-one in all, they were 
sent to Montreal, reaching there November 28th. 
Haldimand MSS. 

McCoRMiCK, (Miss) . Stolen by Indians on the Juniata, in 

October, 1782, with Elizabeth Ewing, q. v. At a place on Lake 
Erie not unlikely on the Buffalo Creek, where the Senecas were 
directly under the influence of Fort Niagara Miss McCormick 
was adopted into an Indian family, and detained, her companion 


being sent down to Montreal for exchange. The Indians, with 
Miss McCormick, moved "into the interior of Canada," where 
her father, who had got trace of his daughter from the report of 
Elizabeth Ewing, on her arrival home made his way with great 
difficulty, as we must suppose, in 1783 or later, after the declara- 
tion of peace. He found his daughter living with the tribe, 
treated as one of the family, and perhaps none the worse for it. 
Jones, who records this captivity in his "History of the Juniata 
Valley," adds that Mr. McCormick got possession of his daughter 
only by the payment of a heavy ransom. The captive was a sister 
of Robert McCormick, Sr., long a resident of Holidaysburg, Pa., 
and an aunt of William, Robert and Alexander McCormick of 

MCDANIEL, JOHN. Captured July 12, 1758, "near Halifax in Nova 
Scotia." Uncertain whether he was an Indian captive or a pris- 
oner of war in the hands of the French. He was brought to 
Fort Niagara and was found there, a prisoner, when that strong- 
hold surrendered to Sir William Johnson, July 25, 1759. 
N. Y. Mercury, Aug. 20, 1759. 

McDowAL, DANIEL. Taken prisoner at Shawnee, Pa., 1782, and car- 
ried to Niagara. His father was a benevolent Scotchman who, 
at Stroudsburg, had befriended the Yankee settlers in their first 
efforts to establish themselves at Wyoming. Details of Daniel 
McDowal's captivity are lacking, but he appears to have returned 
to Pennsylvania. He was the father of Mrs. McKean, wife of 
Gen. Samuel McKean of Bradford County, a United States 

Miner's "History of Wyoming." 

MCGREGORY, (Maj.) PATRICK. First and last, during the French 
regime a good many English traders, or men trading in the Eng- 
lish interest, were brought prisoners to the spot where Fort Niag- 
ara has so long stood. The most important of all this class of 
early prisoners was Major, later Colonel, Patrick McGregory. A 
Scot who had emigrated to Maryland in 1684, he had, soon after 
that date, removed to New York and engaged in the Indian 
trade. In December, 1686, Gov. Thomas Dongan commissioned 
him chief in command of a party of traders which he was to lead 
from Albany into the country of the Ottawas, and also of a 
party which had preceded him, under the leadership of Johannes 
Rooseboom, an Albany Dutchman. In the summer of 1687 
Rooseboom with twenty or more canoes, and McGregory with 
some fifty men, were intercepted on Lake Huron by the French 
under La Durantaye, reinforced by parties under Du Lhut and 
Tonty. All the English and Dutch were brought prisoners to the 
Niagara, where a palisaded post was soon to be built by Denon- 
ville. We have no record of any earlier captivity of a white man 
on the Niagara. McGregory was sent, a prisoner, from Niagara 
to Montreal, and in the autumn of the same year was released 
and allowed to return to New York. The next year he shared in 
the English campaign against the Indians in Maine; and in 1691 
he was killed during the Leisler rebellion, in New York. His 


name is variously spelled, "McGregory," "MacGregory," etc. In 
Governor Dongan's commission it stands as "Magregore." 

See also memoranda respecting Nanning Harmetsen, Fred- 
rych Harmetsen, Dyrick von der Heyder and Fontaine (Abell) 
Marion, who were among the captives with Rooseboom. The 
principal source of information on this episode is the N. Y. 
Colonial documents. 

McKEE, ANNE. The sixteen-year-old daughter of a family living 
on the headwaters of the Delaware, near the present town of 
Hobart, Delaware County, New York. In the summer of 1779 
a war party came up the Delaware, having learned that a Whig 
by the name of McKee had settled in the vicinity. The day of 
their arrival, McKee had gone to Schoharie for flour, but the 
savages murdered his wife and children, except Anne, and their 
bodies were burned in their log cabin. Anne, being fleet-footed, 
ran to a swamp and hid under a log. Venturing to raise her 
head to look towards her burning home, "she saw an Indian of 
large stature approaching her, wielding a firebrand in one hand, 
and a large knife, smeared with blood, in the other. She imme- 
diately sprang from her hiding-place, and with outstretched arms 
approached the hideous savage and threw herself at his feet. 
This bold act saved her life. She was led back by her captor to 
the burning buildings, and putting several pairs of stockings on 
her feet, they then resumed their course to Fort Niagara." 

The foregoing quotation is from Jay Gould's "History of 
Delaware County," published at Roxbury in 1856. Mr. Gould 
quotes from Priest's narrative of the captivity of Schermerhorn, 
the following account of Anne McKee's arrival at Fort Niagara. 
She is the only woman of whom we find record, who was com- 
pelled to run the gauntlet at Fort Niagara : 

"This dreadful race was also run by a Miss Anne McKee, 
who was taken prisoner in the town of Harpersfield, N. Y., dur- 
ing the Revolution, by the Mohawk Indians under Brant. She 
was a young Scotch girl, who during the journey suffered incred- 
ibly from hunger, the want of clothes, and other privations. 
When she came to Fort Niagara, the squaws insisted that she 
should run the race, in order that the pale-faced squaw might 
take a blow from the same sex of another nation than hers. It 
was a grievous sight to see a slender girl, weak from hunger, 
and worn down with the horrors and privations of a 400 miles' 
journey through the woods, by night and day, compelled at the 
end to run this race of shame and suffering. Her head was bare, 
and her hair tangled into mats, her feet naked and bleeding 
from wounds, all her clothes torn to rags during her march 
one would have thought the heart-rending sight would have 
moved the savages. She wept not, for all her tears had been 
shed she stared around upon the grinning multitude in hopeless 
amazement and fixed despair, while she glanced mournfully at 
the fort which lay at the end of the race. The signal was given, 
which was a yell, when she immediately started off a fast as 
she could, while the squaws laid on their whips with all their 
might; thus venting their malice and envy upon the hated white 


woman. She reached the fort in almost a dying condition, being 
beaten and cut in the most dreadful manner, as her person had 
been so much exposed on account of the want of clothing to 
protect her. She was at length allowed to go to her friends 
some Scotch people then living in Canada and after the war she 
returned to the States." 

McKiNNEY, JOHN. Taken captive by Indians, in February, 1756, 
probably in Western Pennsylvania; carried to Fort DuQuesne 
(Pittsburgh), and thence into Canada, undoubtedly by way of 
the French post at Niagara. He escaped from Canada and re- 
turned to Philadelphia, where he gave valuable information 
against the French. 

Craig's "History of Pittsburgh," 1851. 

MANDON family. Details of captivity not known. Sent from Fort 
Niagara to Montreal, October, 1782. 
Haldimand MSS. 

MARION, FONTAINE. Name also given as Abell Marrion. A French- 
Canadian deserter who became guide for the expedition of Maj. 
Patrick McGregory (q. v.). It is not clear whether he passed by 
Niagara and up Lake Erie with the flotilla headed by Johannes 
Rooseboom, or with that of McGregory; but when both parties 
were brought back to the mouth of the Niagara, prisoners of 
the French, in June, 1687, Marion was reserved for special pun- 
ishment. He was carried along to the mouth of the Genesee, 
where the mixed forces of the Marquis de Denonville made 
rendezvous; and there, at the command of that officer, he was 
shot to death. 

N. Y. Col. Docs. La Hontan, "Nouveaux Voyages." 

MARK family. Details of captivity not known. Arrived at Montreal 
from Fort Niagara, Oct. 4, 1784. 
Haldimand MSS. 

MATTICE, FREDERICK, Sr. Taken at Middleburgh on the Schoharie, 
July, 1781, with his son and William Bouck (q. v.). The Mattices 
were detained at Fort Niagara much longer than Bouck, and 
did not reach home until after the conclusion of peace. Simms 
relates, in his "History of Schoharie County," that a tory brother 
of the elder Mattice, who had left Schoharie in 1777, and who 
was residing in Canada, on learning that Frederick was a pris- 
oner at Fort Niagara, tried to persuade an Indian to kill him. 
"Mr. Mattice was retained by an Indian five weeks, to construct 
a log house. During this time the latter, on one occasion, 
returned from Niagara drunk, and got his prisoner up in the 
night to murder him. He struck a blow at his head with some 
missile, which the latter parried, and the Indian's squaw caught 
hold of her leige lord and held him, sending Mattice out of the 
hut, where he remained until the demonizing effect of the alcohol 
passed from the warrior's brain." 

MATTICE, FREDERICK, Jr. Son of the foregoing, aged ten years, when 
taken captive. In the main he shared his father's experiences. 


The boy suffered especially in running the gauntlet on the Gene- 
see, for the Indians, before making him undergo the ordeal, had 
stripped him of all clothing except his shirt. That he survived at 
all is evidence that his tormentors had regard for his tender 
years. Simms ("History of Schoharie County") mentions that 
"on arriving at the Tonawanta Creek, the punkies" i. e., the 
musquitoes "tormented young Mattice nights, and he adopted 
the expedient of burying his person in the forest leaves, to keep 
them off. They all laid down to rest nights, like so many dogs 
in a kennel." 

The Haldimand MSS. mention the arrival of the Mattices 
at Montreal from Fort Niagara, Oct. 4, 1782, with more than 
fifty other American prisoners. 

MERCKLEY, MARTIN. Son of Frederick Merckley, and two young 
women, his cousins, children of Michael Merckley. ("Name 
formerly written 'Mercle,' and pronounced 'Mericle.' SIMMS.) 
The attack upon this family and their neighbors, the family of 
Bastian France, in Schoharie, Oct. 18, 1780, is detailed by Simms. 
Several were slain, some after being carried off captives. Among 
those who survived the attack were Martin Merckley, a young 
boy, and his two cousins, first names not recorded, daughters of 
Michael Merckley, a prominent citizen of the neighborhood. The 
circumstances of his murder, and that of his beautiful niece 
Catharine, were particularly atrocious. The party in which were 
the three young Merckleys "journeyed directly to Canada by the 
usual southwestern route," i. e., up the Schoharie valley, down 
the Susquehanna, thence by the Chemung or Seneca-lake trail, 
the Genesee valley and Tonawanda, to Fort Niagara. They suf- 
fered greatly on the way from cold, the season being late, and 
from lack of food. "Putrid horse-flesh, fortunately found in the 
path, was considered a luxury, and doubtless saved some of 
them from starving. Martin Merckley was compelled to run the 
gauntlet, and was beaten and buffeted a great distance. Prisoners 
captured in the spring or fall, when the Indians were congre- 
gated in villages, usually suffered more than those taken in mid- 
summer. As the Merckley girls were then orphans, and their 
father's personal property all destroyed, they accepted offers of 
marriage, and both remained in Canada." 

Simms, "History of Schoharie County." 

MERINESS, THOMAS. Young man captured with the Vroomans at 
Schoharie, Aug. 9, 1780. Was brought to Fort Niagara, thence 
shipped down the St. Lawrence, but instead of being exchanged 
at Montreal, as were many of the Schoharie prisoners, he was 
taken to Quebec, and while there engaged, with other American 
prisoners, in an attempt to blow up the magazine. The plan was 
discovered, and the conspirators were so severely flogged that 
two of them died; but Meriness recovered. 

MILLER, CATHERINE. Details of capture not known. Was sent with 
other prisoners from Fort Niagara to Montreal, in April, 1781. 
Haldimand MSS. 


MILLER, EVE. Case so far as known same as Catherine Miller, above, 

MILES, W. Captured at Fort Freeland on the West Branch of the 
Susquehanna, in 1778. He was then a youth, and was carried a 
prisoner into Canada, the only likely route, under the circum- 
stances, being by Fort Niagara. He seems to have been detained 
near Niagara, on the Canada side, for it is recorded that at the 
close of the Revolution he crossed Lake Erie and settled near 
Presqu' Isle. In his old age he lived at Girard, Pa., sixteen miles 
west of Erie. 

Rupp's "Early History of Western Pennsylvania," Pittsburg, 

MONCOURT, (Cadet) . Of the Canadian Colonial forces, made 

prisoner of war at Fort Niagara, July 25, 1759, with Pouchpt, 
q. v. On the day after the surrender Moncourt was the victim 
of an extraordinary expression of friendship. Pouchot gives 
the tragedy in a few words : "Cadet Moncourt of the Colonials, 
had formed an attachment with an Indian, to whom he became 
bound in friendship. This Indian, who belonged to the English 
army, seeing his friend a prisoner, expressed a great deal of 
sorrow at his situation, and said to him: 'Brother, I am in 
despair at seeing you dead; but take heart; I'll prevent their 
torturing you,' and killed him with a blow of a tomahawk, think- 
ing thereby to save him from the tortures to which prisoners 
among themselves are subjected." 

MOORE, (Miss) JANE. Taken at Cherry Valley, Nov. n, 1778; car- 
ried to Fort Niagara, where she was released and married Capt. 
John Powell of the British army. Brant, her captor, was pres- 
ent at her wedding. 

Campbell's "Annals of Tryon County"; Simms, "History of 
Schoharie County." 

MOORE, (Mrs.) MARY, and four children, among them Jane Moore, 
who became wife to Capt. John Powell. Mrs. Moore and chil- 
dren were taken at Cherry Valley, Nov. n, 1778, and carried to 
Fort Niagara. Mrs. Moore was wife of John Moore, of the 
Tryon County Committee of Safety, and sister of Capt. Alex- 
ander Harper, who was also carried at a later period, a prisoner 
to Niagara. She appears to have been sent to Montreal in June, 

MOORHEAD, FERGUS. About 1771 or '72 Fergus Moorhead, who had 
begun improvements near where the town of Indiana, Pa., now 
stands, was captured, with a settler named Simpson. Simpson 
was killed, and Moorhead was "carried through the woods to 
Quebec," where he was confined eleven months. Whoever will 
look at the map, and recall the paths and conditions of the time, 
needs no further assurance that Moorhead's route could have 
avoided Fort Niagara only with great difficulty. He was sub- 
sequently exchanged, and rejoined his family in Franklin, Pa. 

Rupp's "Early History of Western Pennsylvania," Pittsburg, 


MORAMBERT, (Lieut.) . Prisoner of war at Fort Niagara, July 

25, 1759, with Pouchot, q. v. 

MUNSON, (Sergt.) LENT. Was one of eleven, taken prisoner Oct. 
I7 1793, by Indians who attacked an expedition led by Lieut. 
Lowry and Ensign Boyd, near Fort St. Clair. Munson was taken 
into the Ottawa country on the Maumee (Miami). His head was 
shaved and he was made a slave to an Ottawa family living on 
the river some thirty miles from the lake. In June, 1794, while 
most of the warriors had gone off on an expedition to intercept 
and destroy Gen. Wayne's army (as they had the forces of Har- 
mer and St. Clair), he escaped by night, in a canoe, in which he 
reached Lake Erie two days later. Skirting the shore of the lake, 
and at first traveling only at night, he reached Fort Niagara, 
where he rested and was given succor. He then journeyed on to 
Connecticut, where he had friends, reaching there about the end 
of July, 1794- 

"Narrative of the captivity and escape of Sergeant Lent Mun- 
son, who fell into the hands of the Western Indians at the time 
of Lieut. Lowry's defeat," in Drake's 'Tragedies of the Wilder- 
ness," Boston, 1846. 

MURPHY, SAMUEL. Taken prisoner by "Massissaugas" ; sent from 
Detroit to Fort Niagara, thence to Montreal, Nov. 1781. 
Haldimand MSS. 

MYNDERT, CHRISTIAN. Of Sharon, Schoharie Co., where he was 
taken captive late in October, 1781, with Jacob Kerker, William 
Kneiskern and Lieut. Jacob Borst, q. v. 

NEAL family. Details of captivity not known. Were sent from 
Fort Niagara to Montreal, where they arrived Oct. 4, 1782. 
Haldimand MSS. 

Negroes. A great many negroes were brought captive to Fort 
Niagara, especially during the years of the Revolution, but the 
names of very few of them are preserved. It is recorded that 
they were docile as prisoners, seldom attempting to escape. The 
Indians recognized these traits, and usually did not take the 
trouble to bind them on the march or in camp. They were not 
compelled to run the gauntlet, and many of them made no attempt 
to return to the States after the war, generally adopting the 
Indian life. Simms says that a negro belonging to Isaac Vroo- 
man, usually called Tom Vrooman, who was taken captive in the 
Schoharie raid of Aug. 9, 1780, became a waiter to Sir John 
Johnson, and in that capacity passed through the Schoharie and 
Mohawk valleys in the following October, and was captured by 
an American soldier near Fort Plain. It was probably as captives 
that the first negroes who came to the Niagara were brought 

Negro girl, name not known, aged seventeen years, taken in the 
vicinity of Wyoming in November, 1778. She was afterwards 
seen by prisoners, employed as a servant in the family of Col. 
John Butler at Niagara, he having purchased her of the Indians. 


NELSON, MOSES. Was at the fort of Cherry yalley at the time of 
the massacre in the fall of 1778, being then in his I4th year. He 
escaped, and in the March following enlisted in the batteau ser- 
vice on the Hudson, for a term of ten months. He returned to 
Cherry Valley and was living there with his mother, when they 
were surprised, April 24, 1780, by a party of seventy-nine Indians 
and two tories. Of the many prisoners taken by this party, eight 
were killed, among them young Nelson's mother. A Stockbridge 
Indian claimed the boy as his own, and brought him, by way of 
Otsego lake, the Susquehanna to Tioga, and the Genesee valley 
to Fort Niagara, which he reached after a journey of eighteen 
days, having been compelled to run the gauntlet at two villages 
on the way. At Fort Niagara Nelson was given the option of 
living with his Indian master, who was called Captain David, 
or enlisting into the British service. Simms, who chronicles 
Nelson's adventures, says the boy was "sold into the forester 
service of the enemy, the duties of which were to 'procure wood, 
water, etc., for the garrison, and do the boating'; being attached 
to what was called the Indian department. He was sent on one 
occasion with a party to Buffalo," the Indian village on Buffalo 
Creek no doubt being meant. "He was for a while, with several 
other captives whose situation was like his own, in the employ of 
Col. John Butler. More than a year of his captivity was spent 
in the vicinity of Niagara." In the spring of 1782, Capt. Nellis, 
Lieut. James Hare, and Ensign Robert Nellis, son of the captain, 
set out from Fort Niagara, with a large party of Indians, soldiers 
and workmen, by sloop for Fort Oswego, which the British pro- 
posed to rebuild. Young Nelson and two other American lads, 
also prisoners, were taken along as waiters. During the summer, 
about loo persons were employed in rebuilding the fortress. 
Nelson was detained there until the spring of 1783, and was in 
the fort in February of that year when Col. Willet and his body 
of American troops made an abortive attempt to capture it. 
When peace was proclaimed in the spring of 1783, Nelson, with 
many other prisoners, returned home by the St. Lawrence, 
Ticonderoga and Fort Edward. At Montreal, on his way home, 
he was paid for labor done in the British service the year before. 
In 1841 Moses Nelson, then a resident of Otsego Co., N. Y., 
related the incidents of his captivity to Jeptha R. Simms, who 
recorded them in his "History of Schoharie County and Border 
Wars of New York," Albany, 1845. 

NEWKIRK, WILLIAM. Taken by Corn planter and his followers, sum- 
mer of 1780, on the Mohawk or headwaters of the Susquehanna; 
brought to the Genesee, living at Little Beard's Town and Fort 
Niagara about a year. He then enlisted under Butler and went 
on an expedition to the Monongahela. 
"Life of Mary Jemison." 


O'BRIEN, HENRY. Of Monteur's company; at battle of Great 
Meadows, July 4, 1754, taken prisoner by Indians in the French 


interest; sent by way of Venango, Le Boeuf and Fort Niagara 
to Montreal. 

Stobo's "Memoirs." 

ODENOFFE (?), MARGARET. Captured by Indians on the Delaware, 
brought to Fort Niagara, sent thence to Montreal, April 23, 1781. 
Haldimand MSS. 

OGDEN, DAVID. Born at Fishkill, N. Y., 1764; taken prisoner, spring 
of 1781, near Fort Stanwix, by a party led by Joseph Brant; 
marched to Fort Niagara, where he ran the gauntlet ; was adopted 
and lived with an Indian family, probably Senecas, near Fort 
Niagara and at Lewiston, until the spring of 1783, when with 
other prisoners he was put on board the schooner Seneca and 
sent to Oswego. He escaped from this post and made his way 
through the wilderness to Fort Herkimer, where he was given aid 
and helped on his way to his parents at Warrensburg, Schoharie 

Priest's "True Narrative of the Capture of David Ogden," 
Lansingburgh, 1840; Severance's "Old Trails on the Niagara 

OLMAN. Possibly the correct spelling for the name which appears 
in our list as "Utman," as given by Simms and others. See 

OSTERHOUT, JACOB. Taken prisoner by Indians at Lackawack, Ulster 
Co., 1778, with George Anderson, and shared his adventures. 

PAINTER, MARGARET. Taken early in 1758 at some point in Penn- 
sylvania. Found a prisoner at Fort Niagara when it was taken 
by the British, July 25, 1759. 
N. Y. Mercury, Aug. 20, 1759. 

P ARRIS H, JASPER. Born 1767. Taken prisoner July 5, 1778, by 
Munseys, a branch of the Delawares, and was carried to the 
Tioga river, near present site of Elmira, where he lived with 
his Indian master, Capt. Mounsh, until the summer of 1779, when 
the Indians, fleeing before Sullivan, carried him to Fort Niagara, 
where he was later sold to a Mohawk, Capt. David Hill, for $20. 
Hill lived on the plain adjoining the fort, and this was Parrish's 
home until May, 1781, when they moved to present Lewiston. 
He left there Nov. 29, 1784, to be delivered over to the whites at 
Fort Stanwix. From 1790 to the close of his life he often acted 
as interpreter, both for the Government and on other occasions. 
Feb. 15, 1803, he was appointed sub-agent to the Six Nations, 
Gen. Israel Chapin being agent. His story is closely linked with 
that of Horatio Jones, and forms an important chapter in the 
early history of Buffalo and the Niagara Frontier. He died at 
Canandaigua, July 12, 1836. 

"The Story of Jasper Parrish," Buf. Hist. Soc. Pubs., vol. vi. 

PARRISH, STEPHEN, brother of Jasper, taken prisoner with him, July 
5, 1778; brought to the Niagara, where he was surrendered to 


the British officers at the fort; sent to Montreal and exchanged, 
returning to his home about two years from date of capture. 

PARRISH, , father of Jasper and Stephen. Same experience 

in captivity as Stephen, so far as known. 

PATCHIN, FREEGIFT. Was taken with Capt. Alexander Harper by 
Brant, near Fort Schoharie, April 7, 1780, and shared the adven- 
tures of Harper, till they reached Fort Niagara. (See "HARPER, 
ALEXANDER.") Here he ran the gauntlet; was roughly ques- 
tioned by Butler, who, resenting the young man's replies about 
British prospects in the States, called him a "damned rebel" and 
ordered him out of his sight. Another British officer befriended 
him, and Mrs. Nancy Bundy, a pioneer, cared for him. (See 
BUNDY, NANCY). He was sent to Carleton Island, the Cedars, 
Fort Chambly, where he was kept two years, suffering greatly, 
then to Quebec, and by ship to Boston ; reaching "old Schoharie" 
after an absence of three years. General Patchin, as he came to 
be known, was elected to the Legislature in 1820, while DeWitt 
Clinton was Governor. He was a Member of Assembly from 
Schoharie County, 1821-22. He acquired property and died at 
Blenheim, Schoharie County, in or about 1830. 

PATCHIN, ISAAC. Brother of Freegift Patchin, and taken with him 
and Capt. Alexander Harper, on the Schoharie, April 7, 1780. 
Experiences same as theirs. 

PEARL. See PEART. In the "List of Prisoners taken by the Indians 
from Penn's Valley," dated "Philadelphia, 7mo. 20, 1780," the 
names of all the Pearts appear as "Pearl." The list is printed in 
the Pennsylvania Archives, 2d series, vol. iii. 

PATTON, JOHN. See BOURKE, THOMAS. In the rare old volume, 
"The Mystery Reveal'd," etc. (London, 1759), his name is 
printed "George Pathon." His captivity, with Luke Irwin, 
Thomas Bourke and Joseph Fortiner recalls that earlier capture 
of English and Dutch traders, McGregory, Rooseboom and their 
men, by the French in 1687. Patton and his companions were 
taken prisoners for trading with the Indians on the Ohio, and 
brought to Fort Niagara in 1751. Writing to Goy. George Clin- 
ton, Aug. 10, 1751, La Jonquiere says John "Pathine" was taken 
prisoner "in the French fort of the Miamis," by M. de Villiers, 
commandant, and that "Broke" (Bourke), "Arowin" (Irwin) 
and Fortiner were captured "near the little lake of Otsanderket," 
i. e., Sandusky. 

PEART, BENJAMIN, son of Benjamin Gilbert's second wife, aged 27, 
taken prisoner by Rowland Monteur's party, when the Gilberts 
were taken, April 25, 1780. Was taken up the Susquehanna, and, 
after the separation of the captives, with the main party up the 
Seneca lake trail to Kanadesaga, thence to an Indian town, 
apparently Monteur's, on the heights east of Lewiston. Here he 
was adopted by a squaw, who took him to the Niagara "about 
two miles below the great falls," according to the Gilbert Narra- 
tive; more likely, about seven miles, to the favorite camping 


spot, now Lewiston. A few days later he was taken to Fort 
Niagara in a bark canoe, and after provisions were had, along 
the south shore of the lake to the Genesee river, and up that 
stream (portaging at the falls) about thirty miles. Here (Little 
Beard's Town) Peart found two other white prisoners. He lived 
with his Indian captors, removing with them from place to place 
in the Genesee valley, until the late winter or early spring of 
1781, receiving one visit from his brother Thomas. His captors 
took him to Fort Niagara in March, 1781, where he had a brief 
meeting with his wife, who had been separated from him ten 
months. After some days at the fort the Indians set out for 
home, taking Benjamin with them. After going a few miles he 
pretended he had forgotten something at the fort, and they 
allowed him to go back for it ; he stayed there that night, and the 
next day, when his Indian brother came for him, professed to 
be too lame to walk. They left him there two months, then sent 
another "brother" to fetch him; this one was induced by presents 
to leave him; later a third emissary came for Benjamin, but the 
officers secured his surrender, about May, 1781. He was em- 
ployed for some months by Col. Guy Johnson, was later joined 
by his wife and child, and in August, 1781, with five other mem- 
bers of the Gilbert family, sailed for Montreal, arriving Aug. 
25th ; subsequently returning home with the reunited family, 
August, 1782. 

Gilbert "Narrative." 

PEART, ELIZABETH, aged 20, Benjamin Peart's wife. Taken with the 
Gilberts, April 25, 1780, and brought to Fort Niagara with the 
main party. After separation from her husband, she, her child 
(Elizabeth, nine months old) and Abigail Dodson, aged 14, were 
taken eight miles from Niagara fort, and adopted into a Seneca 
family. Abigail was given to another family. Elizabeth was 
taken to Fort Schlosser, then to Buffalo Creek, where they built 
a cabin. Some time after they took her to Fort Niagara, where 
her child was taken from her and sent to a family on the west 
side of the Niagara. Elizabeth went back to Buffalo Creek, 
where she lived a laborious and menial life until the summer of 
1781, with one visit to Fort Niagara and across the river to see 
her child. On a second visit to Fort Niagara she met her hus- 
band, regained her child, and sailed with them and others for 
Montreal, August, 1781, returning to Pennsylvania with the 
reunited party, August, 1782. 
Gilbert "Narrative." 

PEART, ELIZABETH, Jr., nine months old when her mother, Elizabeth 
Peart, was taken captive with the Gilberts. She was taken from 
her mother at Fort Niagara, given to an Indian family on the 
west side of the river, and afterwards cared for by an English 
family named Fry (Frye). She was subsequently restored to her 
mother and taken to Montreal and Pennsylvania with the rest 
of the family. 

PEART, THOMAS, aged 23, son of Benjamin Gilbert's wife; taken 
with the Gilberts on Mahoning Creek, April 25, 1780; separated 


from the main party May 4, 1780, and with Joseph Gilbert taken 
westward to the Genesee, compelled to run the gauntlet, and 
turned over to work for an Indian at Nunda. Being strong, he 
worked hard, but was adopted to fill the place of a no-account 
old man, so was not held in high esteem. He accompanied his 
captors to Fort Niagara, returning to the Genesee by way of Fort 
Schlosser and Buffalo Creek. He roamed about, hunted with the 
Indians, visited Joseph Gilbert at Caracadera, and in the autumn 
of 1780 received a visit from him, learning from him of the death 
of Benjamin Gilbert, Sr. On a second expedition to Fort 
Niagara, the officers bought his release. He worked for Col. 
Johnson, residing in his family. In the spring of 1781, with 
officers, he took hoes and seed-corn to the Indians on Buffalo 
Creek, and saw Rebecca Gilbert ; returning to the fort, he worked 
for Col. Guy Johnson until June, 1781, when six of the released 
captives were sent to Montreal and he was given permission to 
go; but he stayed behind, to help Rebecca and the boy Benjamin 
gain their freedom. In the fall of 1781 he visited them again, on 
Buffalo Creek. In the winter of 1781-82 he chopped wood for 
the British officers. In the spring he made two more visits to 
Buffalo Creek. Some weeks after the last visit Rebecca and the 
boy Benjamin were set free. Thomas met them and accom- 
panied them to Montreal; returning to Pennsylvania with the 
reunited family in August, 1782. 

Gilbert "Narrative." 

PEMBERTON, JAMES. Taken prisoner July 5, 1778, on the headwaters 
of the Delaware, with Jasper Parrish, and the latter's father and 
brother Stephen. Was brought to the Niagara by Mohawks, 
and at Lewiston narrowly escaped being burned at the stake. 
His captors made him collect brush and wood for his own pyre, 
stripped him naked and were about to begin the torture, when 
Brant intervened. He promised him as husband to the squaw 
who should help effect his escape, arguing that as he was a man 
of exceptional strength and fine proportions, he would be useful 
to them. Taking advantage of a momentary opportunity, Pem- 
berton fled, and being a good runner gained Fort Niagara, where 
he was protected by Col. Butler and given work. He remained 
at the fort, and in its vicinity, until the Peace of 1783, then joined 
the Tuscaroras and became the second husband of the mother 
of John Mountpleasant. He died at Tuscarora village near Lew- 
iston in 1806 or 1807. His descendants still live at Tuscarora. 
The facts of his escape from the stake at Lewiston were related 
to Orsamus Turner by John Mountpleasant and Judge Cook of 
Lewiston. Pemberton told his story to Judge Cook, and pointed 
out the place of the proposed torture, a level space between the 
Seymour Scovell house and the ferry. 

Turner's "Holland Purchase." 

PETER, JOHN. Taken prisoner May 23, 1759, with Robinson 

and Bell, all of "Capt. Bullet's Co. of Virginians, on their 

way to Fort Legonier from Ray's Town." Found confined as a 


prisoner at Fort Niagara when the British took possession, July 
25, 1759- 

N. Y. Mercury, Aug. 20, 1759. 

PHILLIPS, (Capt.) . Made captive in July, 1780, in Wood- 
cock valley, tributary to the Juniata, near present Williamsburg, 
Pa. With him were his son and a party of ten rangers, when 
they were surrounded by a party of some sixty Indians and two 
white men disguised as Indians. Phillips' party were all taken, 
and started off for Kittanning, but a halt was made, "the ten 
men were tied to as many saplings, and two or three volleys of 
arrows were fired into them." Capt. Phillips and his son Elijah, 
the only prisoners spared from the massacre, were taken to 
Detroit, the Indians expecting a handsome figure from the Brit- 
ish, for an American officer. Phillips and his son were sent to 
Fort Niagara, thence to Montreal, reaching their home in Penn- 
sylvania after peace was declared, in 1783. 
Jones, "History of the Juniata Valley." 

PHILLIPS, ELIJAH. Aged 14, son of Capt Phillips, q. v. 

PIPER, ANDREW. One of the first three settlers of Frankfort, N. Y., 
in 1723. Was an old man in the spring of 1780, when he was 
taken captive at German Flats, now Mohawk, in the Mohawk 
valley. He was held for a time among the Senecas at Kanadesaga, 
and was offered a chance to escape by an Oneida, who promised 
to conduct him to safety. Piper feared to make the attempt, and 
told the Oneida that he would wait in the hope of being ex- 
changed. The conversation was overheard by Col. John Butler, 
who fearing he might escape, sent him to Fort Niagara. 

Data furnished by Mr. Peter F. Piper of the Buffalo Public 
School Department. 

PIPER, ANDREW. Grandson of the foregoing; in 1780 he was an 
ensign in the 4th Tryon Co. Regiment. He was a prisoner of 
the British from June 14, 1780, to Dec. 14, 1782. He and his 
brother Peter were carrying grain to mill at Little Falls when 
they were ambushed by the Indians not far from Fort Herkimer. 
Peter killed one of the Indians, but both were taken to Fort 
Niagara and thence to Quebec. Andrew, who was born 1760, 
married Elizabeth Fox and died at Frankfort, N. Y., June 5, 1842. 
His father, Peter Piper, son of Andrew, filed a claim against the 
State of New York for losses suffered during the Brant and 
Butler raids of 1780. 

Data supplied by Mr. Peter F. Piper. Also mentioned in Hal- 
dimand MSS. 

PIPER, PETER. Brother of Andrew 2d, and shared his captivity so 
far as known. No trace of him after he was carried to Quebec. 

PORTER, SAMUEL, and four others named Porter, taken captive in 
Virginia, June 24, 1780; arrived in Montreal from Fort Niagara, 
Oct. 4, 1782. 

Haldimand MSS. 


POUCHOT, (Capt.) FRANCOIS. Captain in the regiment of Beam, 
commanding officer at Fort Niagara. He surrendered the gar- 
rison to Sir William Johnson, July 25, 1759. According to 
Pouchot's own account, the garrison at time of surrender con- 
sisted of 486 men, only 340 of whom were capable of bearing 
arms. This is probably nearer the fact than the English account 
(Entick, iv. 139), which puts the number of effectives at 607. 
Pouchot's surrender marked the end of the French regime on 
the Niagara. The French who were thereafter at Niagara, were 
there as prisoners of the English. 

PRICE, DAVID. Born about 1750, of Welsh parents, in the Mohawk 
valley. About 1771, while walking through a field near his home, 
with a companion, they were surprised and taken captive by a 
band of Senecas. The companion was soon ransomed from the 
Indians by the British, but Price was kept by his captors two 
years, after which time, on his promise not to leave them, "they 
gave him a gun and trusted him on many occasions with import- 
ant missions. Though held and treated as a captive, on his prom- 
ise to return with them [i. e. the Senecas], he was allowed to go 
among the whites at the British forts. . . . They ranged from 
Fort Niagara in New York through the forests south, east and 
west, employed as scouts, and in frequent skirmishes. The chief 
of their band was Little Beard." This chief adopted Price. When 
Maj. Moses Van Campen was a prisoner and compelled to run 
the gauntlet, Price was a witness. Price accompanied the Sen- 
ecas on several occasions when they took prisoners to Fort Niag- 
ara, and sometimes saved them from severe punishment at the 
gauntlet ordeal. One of these, a young girl, afterwards married 
his uncle, Joseph Price. Another was a Miss Haverstraw. Price 
remained seven years with the Senecas, and finally severed his 
connection with the tribe at the British post of Oswego, where 
he remained as interpreter and clerk until the end of the war. 
He then came to the Niagara, stayed for a time at Fort Niagara, 
then made his home near Fort George, on the British side of the 
river, where he was interpreter and storekeeper in the Indian 
Department. When the War of 1812 broke out, he removed to 
a farm in the present village of Welland, on Chippewa creek. He 
served with the British, all told, thirty-six years. He is the hero 
of many exploits in the Niagara region, especially in the way of 
hunting. He died in 1841. 

Reminiscences of David and John Price, written out by D. D. 
Babcock, formerly of Welland, Ont. 

PRICE, CHRISTIAN. A Virginia rifleman, details of whose captivity 
are not known. He was held a prisoner at Fort Niagara in the 
latter part of the Revolutionary war, and in 1782 was associated 
with George Warner, Jr., q. v. Price seems to have been among 
the prisoners who were suspected of murdering several Indians 
at Fort Niagara at this time, among them a half-breed known 
as William Johnson, a reputed son of Sir William Johnson; his 
body was found one morning sticking head first in a rain-water- 
barrel. Simms, in his "History of Schoharie County," relates 


at length how Price disguised himself as a young woman, and 
was married to a simple but gallant fellow, one Patrick Tuffts, 
employed by Col. Butler. The incident is in marked contrast to 
most of those that one finds in the history of Fort Niagara. 

PRICE, (Mrs.) JOSEPH. A young Dutch woman, first name Lizzie, 
last name not known, and a Miss Haverstraw, were taken to Fort 
Niagara captive by a band of Senecas with whom was David 
Price (q. v.). The British ransomed the girls from the Indians, 
and they both remained in Canada, Lizzie subsequently marrying 
Joseph Price. 

D. D. Babcock's narrative of David and John Price. 

PROCTHY, SAMUEL. Aged 20. Made prisoner in 1778, where not 
known. Was sent from Fort Niagara to Montreal, in August, 

Haldimand MSS. 

RAMSAY, DAVID. In some respects the story of this Scotchman is 
the most remarkable of all of those who were brought prisoner 
to Fort Niagara. He was carried thither, not as an Indian cap- 
tive, but as a prisoner of the British, to whom he was loyal. He 
had left Scotland when a youth, served the British till the close 
of the French War, and in 1763 settled on the Mohawk; engaged 
for a time with the Northwest Company of Montreal as a fur 
trader; but, being joined by his younger brother, George Ramsay, 
he fitted out at Schenectady to engage in the fur trade on his 
own account. It was apparently in 1771 that the Ramsays came 
with their large battoe and goods by way of Lake Ontario and 
the Niagara to Lake Erie, and thence along the north shore to 
Kettle Creek, on which stream they built a house and bartered 
for furs. In January, 1772, being beset by hostile Indians, David 
killed three of them; and a few weeks later, having been made 
prisoner, broke loose in a struggle with one of his captors and 
killed five more. With his brother, after great hardships, he 
crossed to the south shore of Lake Erie, then made for Fort Erie, 
the commandant of which, on hearing his story, confined him, 
then sent him under guard to Fort Niagara, where he was again 
imprisoned. When the Indians heard that David was there, they 
gathered in great numbers, and threatened to burn the fort if he 
were not handed over to them. He was sent to Montreal, and 
after fifteen months' imprisonment, was released. He served the 
British during the Revolutionary war, and returned to the Niag- 
ara, where, strange to tell, he was cordially received by the chil- 
dren and tribesmen of the Indians he had killed, and was given 
a grant of land in Upper Canada, four miles square. For attempt- 
ing to smuggle furs into the United States his goods were seized ; 
and when Patrick Campbell visited the Niagara in 1791 he found 
Ramsay employed as a guide and messenger for the officers at 
the fort and people of the neighborhood. He guided Campbell 
from Fort Niagara to the Genesee, in March, 1792, and on the 
way told him the story of his earlier adventures, which Camp- 
bell published in his "Travels" (Edinburgh, 1793), now an ex- 
ceedingly rare book. 


Ramsay's narrative is republished, with some account of Capt. 
Patrick Campbell and his descendants (some of them still living 
in Buffalo), in vol. vii of the Buffalo Historical Society Publica- 
tions, 1904. 

RAMSEY, JOHN. Deserted from the English (Mercer's company in 
the Virginia Regiment) at Great Meadows, July 3, 1754, the day 
before the battle; is said to have informed the French of the 
precarious situation of the English. The French confined him, 
telling him that if his intelligence proved true he should be 
rewarded, but if false, they would hang him. He has been blamed 
as the cause of the great defeat of July 4th. He was subsequently 
sent to Canada with some ten or more other English prisoners 
and deserters, in the custody of the Indians who had captured 
them during the battle. They probably reached Niagara before 
the end of July, going thence by boat to Montreal. 
Stobo's "Memoirs." 

RAMSEY (Miss) . Cousin of Jane (Mrs. Samuel) Campbell. 

The latter found her and her mother, Mrs. Ramsey, prisoners at 
Fort Niagara when she arrived there from Kanadesaga in June, 
1779. The Ramseys were probably sent to Montreal with Mrs. 
Campbell, in June, 1780. It was to Miss Ramsey at Fort Niagara 
that Mrs. Campbell gave a cap which she had obtained from the 
Indian who at Cherry Valley had killed and scalped its wearer, 
their friend, Jane Wells. 

Campbell's "History of Tryon County"; Ellet's "The Women 
of the American Revolution," and various local records. 

RAMSEY (Mrs.) . Mother of the last-mentioned. They were 

together at Fort Niagara in June, 1779. 

RANSOM (Col.) GEORGE PALMER. Enlisted at fourteen in his father's 
company and marched, 1777, to join Washington's army; fought 
at the Millstone, the Brandywine and Germantown, and wintered 
at Valley Forge. Young Ransom served under Capt. Simon 
Spalding, at Merwine's, four miles from Wyoming, on the day 
of the battle July 3, 1778. He was with Sullivan in the cam- 
paign of 1779, and fought at Newtown. In December, 1780, he 
was taken prisoner by a party of Butler's Rangers and Indians; 
other captives were an old man named Harvey, and his son 
Elisha Harvey; Bullock, Frisby, Cady. They were all taken to 
Fort Niagara. In the summer of 1781 Ransom, Harvey and 
Frisby were sent to Montreal; in the fall removed to Prisoner's 
Island, 45 miles up the St. Lawrence, where were 166 American 
prisoners. Col. Ransom has left a narrative of his experiences 
at this place. In June, 1782, with two companions, he escaped, 
made his way home, rejoined his regiment and served out the 

Miner's "History of Wyoming." 

RAVENSBERG, (Lieut.) . Taken on the Ohio, Aug. 24, 1781. 

From Fort Niagara sent to Montreal. November, 1781. 
Haldimand MSS. 


RHEA, THOMAS. He was taken prisoner, May 5, 1791, at Cussawaga 
by a party of Delawares and Munsees. Of his companions, Wil- 
liam Gregg was killed and scalped, Cornelius Van Home made 
captive. They were carried to Sandusky "by way of the mouth 
of the Cayahoga river and the Moravian town." In the vicinity 
of Sandusky, the Indians made Rhea plant corn for seven days. 
Then, May 24th, his captors took alarm at the approach of troops, 
"destroyed the corn which had been planted, burned their houses 
and moved to the great crossing of the Miami or Ottawa river, 
called Sandusky. At this place (the Miami) were Colonels 
Brandt and McKee, with his son Thomas and Captains Bunbury 
and Silvie of the British troops." Rhea describes with consid- 
erable detail the condition of the British and Indians. Captain 
Silvie bought him from the Indians, and on June 4th the King's 
birthday he was sent to Detroit. Three days later he was sent 
to Fort Erie in the ship Dunmore, arriving four days later. He 
reached Pittsburgh, June 30, 1791. While captive on the Miami 
he saw a Mr. and Mrs. Dick of Pittsburgh, who had been brought 
there captive by the Wyandots ; also a boy named Brittle. The 
fate of these prisoners is not learned. 

Rhea's narrative, Penna. Archives, 2d series, vol. iv. 

RIDDELL, ELIZA, and five children. Made captive in Virginia, June 
24, 1780; arrived in Montreal from Fort Niagara, Oct. 4, 1782. 
Haldimand MSS. 

RIDDELL, ISAAC. Presumably husband of Eliza Riddell. Taken with 
her and their five children, June 24, 1780, and sent with them 
from Fort Niagara to Montreal, October, 1782. 
Haldimand MSS. 

RIDEOUT, THOMAS. Was taken captive by Shawanese in 1788, on 
the Ohio near present Portsmouth, O., carried across country 
to the Wabash, up that stream to Fort Miami (now Fort Wayne, 
Ind.), and thence to Detroit, where he found friends and freedom 
among the British officers. Early in the summer of 1788 he 
embarked with the 53d Regiment for Fort Erie ; visited the Falls 
of Niagara, was well received at Fort Niagara by Col. Hunter, 
who then commanded a battalion of the 6oth Regiment, and who 
afterwards became Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada and 
Commander; and reached Montreal about the middle of July, 
1788. He became a resident of Canada and Surveyor-General of 
Upper Canada. He wrote the narrative of his captivity, the MS. 
of which, with numerous mementoes of him, is preserved by his 
descendants in Ottawa and elsewhere. His account of his cap- 
ture, with a map, is published as an Appendix to Matilda Edgar's 
"Ten Years of Upper Canada," etc., Toronto, 1890. 

ROBINSON (Lieut.) . Captured on the Ohio, Aug. 24, 1781. 

From Fort Niagara was sent to Montreal, reaching there Nov. 
28, 1781. 

Haldimand MSS. 


ROOSEBOOM, JOHANNES. The first white man, not in French interest, 
known to have visited the Niagara. There are various spellings 
of the name of this Albany Dutchman who in 1685 led a party 
of traders into the country of the Ottawas, successfully eluding 
the French, who were sent by Denonville to the Niagara to stop 
them. The venture proved so successful that in the autumn of 
1686 a larger expedition was fitted out. With twenty or more 
canoes Rooseboom made his way up the Mohawk, over the port- 
age to Oneida lake and thence to Lake Ontario. He had instruc- 
tions to winter among the Senecas, and in the spring to join 
a party to be sent out under Major McGregory (q. v.) and 
push on to Lake Huron. Rooseboom and party, in advance of 
McGregory, were intercepted on Lake Huron by a swarm of 
French and Indians under La Durantaye, taken prisoners and 
carried captive to Mackinac ; from which point, reinforced by 
hordes of Western Indians, La Durantaye set out with his pris- 
oners for Niagara. Near Detroit McGregory and party were 
encountered. They, too, were made prisoners, and plundered of 
their goods ; and after the traders' rum had been consumed, the 
Dutch and English were all brought prisoners to Niagara ; among 
their captors in the French interest being La Salle's Italian lieu- 
tenant, the Chevalier de Tonty he of the iron hand; Du Lhut, 
for whom Duluth is named ; and La Durantaye, former captain 
of the regiment of Chambellay and commandant at Mackinac. 
These captains were bringing the Western Indians to the Niagara 
rendezvous, to join Denonville in his great campaign against the 
Iroquois. The unexpected presence of the Dutch and English 
prisoners strengthened the cause of the French in the eyes of 
the Western tribes. The great party 1500, according to some 
of the captive Dutchmen, about 600, according to French reports, 
reached Niagara on June 27, 1687. There was then no fort there, 
though Denonville was to build one, a few weeks later. Roose- 
boom, McGregory and their men were sent to Cataraqui (present 
Kingston), where many of the prisoners, though probably not 
the leaders, were compelled to work on the defences. They were 
ultimately sent on to Montreal and Quebec ; whence Rooseboom 
returned to Albany. The next year (1688) he married Gerritjs 
Coster; was an "assistant alderman" in 1629, alderman of the 
Second Ward in 1700, and lieutenant in Capt. Johannes Bleecker's 
company. He was "buried in the church," Beverwyck, now 
Albany, Jan. 25, 1745, aged about 84. Several representatives 
of the family have figured in New York State history. 

ROSE, WILLIAM. The captivity of this youth presents an unusual 
feature : His mother urged him to submit to the Indians and go 
along with them to Fort Niagara. But she was a true patriot 
none the less. It was soon after the capture of Capt. Harper, 
that a band of Indians made an incursion into Colchester, then 
known by its Indian name of Papagonck, where lived one Rose 
with his family. The following particulars are recorded by Jay 
Gould in his "History of Delaware County": 

"At the time the Indians approached the residence of Mr. 
Rose, his son William was engaged in constructing a canoe on 


the bank of the river, a short distance from the house. He was 
shortly after surprised and taken prisoner, and was informed 
that he must accompany them to the home of the Red men in 
the West. He protested stoutly against accompanying them, but 
all in vain. The Indians also took three cows belonging to his 
father, which they drove before them, together with whatever 
the house contained, which seemed to them valuable. The first 
night the Indians with their prisoner encamped but a short dis- 
tance from the residence of Mr. Rose, and in the morning one 
of the cows was found to have strayed for home. Young Rose 
was sent back after the missing cow alone, but with the injunc- 
tion, 'that if he did not return immediately with the cow, they 
would return and murder them all, and burn their buildings.' 
The boy related to his mother all that had happened, and showed 
very little inclination to return to his captors; but knowing how 
well the Indians were apt to execute their threats, she insisted 
with heroic fortitude, upon his immediate return into captivity 
with the missing cow. He accompanied the Indians to Niagara, 
and after a prolonged captivity of three years, was once more 
permitted to return to his friends." 

RUDELLE, JAMES. Taken by Capt. Bird at Licking Creek, Aug. 6, 
1781 ; brought to Fort Niagara, and sent to Montreal, November, 

RUNNELS, TIMOTHY. Taken prisoner by Brant near Fort Stanwix, 
spring of 1781; brought to Niagara; further details of his cap- 
tivity unknown. 

Priest's "Narrative of the Capture of David Ogden." 

RUTHERFORD, JOHN. While on an exploring trip between Detroit and 
Mackinac, in May, 1763, under Capt. Charles Robson of the 77th 
Regiment, he was taken prisoner by the Chippewas. He saw the 
body of Capt. Robson served up at a feast; was made a slave, 
then adopted by a Chippewa, then sold to a Frenchman; was 
recaptured by Chippewas, taken before Pontiac, whom he served 
as interpreter ; then carried off by an Ottawa chief, who delivered 
him to his former Indian master ; he escaped, after many adven- 
tures reaching Detroit. He was then seventeen years old. Ten 
days later Major Gladwin sent him to Niagara on the schooner 
Beaver, to bring back goods. On the return vovage, a day's sail 
from Fort Schlosser, the vessel sprung a leak. With great exer- 
tion they grounded her and got ashore, only to be attacked by 
the Indians. This was on the south shore, somewhere between 
Buffalo and Erie. Several days later a relief party in boats 
reached them from Fort Niagara; Rutherford and his com- 
panions marched over the portage, as he says, "just three days 
after the Indians had defeated our troops in a rencontre. We 
saw about eighty dead bodies, unburied, scalped and sadly man- 
gled." This refers to the massacre of the Devil's Hole, the scene 
of which Rutherford must have passed Sept. 16, 1763, reaching 
Fort Niagara on that or the following day, whence he went to 
New York. Rutherford's subsequent adventures are not known 
to be connected with our region. 


Rutherford's Narrative, Trans. Can. Institute, Sept., 1893; 
Buf. Hist. Soc. Pubs., vol. v, pp. 2-4; vol. vi, pp. 27-29. 

SALLING, JOHN PETER. A weaver of Williamsburg, Va., of whose, 
remarkable captivity conflicting accounts exist. The data which 
are beyond doubt are to effect that about the year 1738 Sailing 
and one Thomas Morlin, a peddler, trading from Williamsburg 
to Winchester, Va., set out on a tour of exploration into the 
country to the westward. They traveled up the Shenandoah, 
crossing the James and some of its branches and had reached 
the Roanoke, when Sailing was taken captive by a party of 
Cherokees. His companion, Morlin the peddler, eluded them, and 
made out to reach Winchester, where he told what had happened. 
There is somewhat less certainty about what befel Sailing. The 
most detailed and apparently most trustworthy account With- 
ers's precious "Chronicles of Border Warfare" says that he was 
carried to what is now Tennessee, where he remained some years. 
While with a party of Cherokees on a buffalo hunt, a band of 
Illinois Indians surprised them, captured Sailing from the Chero- 
kees and carried him to Kaskaskia, where he was adopted into 
the family of a squaw whose son had been killed. Sailing made 
excursions with his new captors below the mouth of the Arkansas, 
going once to the Gulf of Mexico. One account says he re- 
turned thence by vessel to Charleston, whence he made his way 
home ; but Withers, who is seldom wrong in these old chronicles, 
says that Sailing, on the lower Mississippi, fell in with a party of 
Spaniards who needed an interpreter and bought Sailing from his 
Indian mother "for three strands of beads and a calumet." He 
attended them to the post at Crevecoeur, on the Illinois, "from 
which place he was conveyed to Fort Frontignac." The route, at 
this period, would have been by Fort Niagara, which he reached, 
apparently, about 1743 or '4; for at Frontenac he "was redeemed 
by the Governor of Canada, who sent him to the Dutch settle- 
ment in New York, whence he made his way home after an ab- 
sence of six years." About 1850 Dr. Lyman C. Draper talked 
with Sailing's descendants. 

See, for various accounts of Sailing's adventures, Kercheval's 
"History of the Valley of Virginia"; Du Pratz's "History of 
Louisiana" (London, 1774) ; Withers' "Chronicles of Border 
Warfare" (Clarksburg, Va., 1831); and especially the edition of 
Withers edited by R. G. Thwaites (Cincinnati, 1895). 

SAWYER, . Same experience in captivity as COWLEY, , 

q. v. 

SCOTT (Lieut.) . Taken on the Ohio, Aug. 24, 1781. From 

Fort Niagara sent to Montreal, November, 1781. 
Haldimand MSS. 

SCRAYSTOBECK, PAGGY. Aged 16. Taken at some unspecified point 
in New York, in 1782; shipped off from Fort Niagara to 
Montreal, with ten others, in August, 1782. It is not unlikely, 
that the name is misspelled, but so it is written in the return of 
prisoners preserved among the Haldimand papers. 


SERVIER, (Capt.) . Captain in the regiment of Royal Rouissil- 

lon. Prisoner of war at Fort Niagara, July 25, 1759, with 
Pouchot, q. v. 

SHEAR, CHRISTIAN. Details of captivity not known. Was sent from 
Fort Niagara to Montreal, April 23, 1781, with nineteen other 

Haldimand MSS. 

SHEAK, ELIZA. Case so far as known same as Christian Sheak, 

SHOEMAKER, (Mrs.) JACOB, and her ten-year-old son were captured in 
the vicinity of Fort Dayton, Schoharie valley, in August, 1780. 
They were taken to Canada, apparently by way of Fort Niagara, 
as a large party of other prisoners, the Vroomans, Henry Hager 
and others, taken in the Schoharie valley at this time, are known 
to have been brought to Niagara. Sir John Johnson paid $7 to 
ransom Mrs. Shoemaker. 

SHRIVER, JOHN. Taken at some Pennsylvania point, April 16, 1778, 
with Sarah and Sarah, probably wife and child. Sent from Fort 
Niagara to Montreal with many other American prisoners, Octo- 
ber, 1782. 

Haldimand MSS. 

SHRIVER, SARAH. Taken with John Shriver, and sent from Fort 
Niagara to Montreal with him. 

SHRIVER, SARAH (2d). Apparently child of John and Sarah Shriver. 

SIMONTON, JOHN. A lad of eight years when he was made captive 
by the Indians in the upper Juniata valley, in the fall of 1780. 
The circumstances of his capture were peculiarly atrocious, in- 
volving the murder of the family of Matthew Dean, with whom 
young Simonton was at the time. His father, Capt. Simonton, 
made assiduous search for him, going as far west as Chillicothe, 
O., to attend a treaty, and offering 100 for his recovery; but 
without getting trace of him. In the War of 1812, two perhaps 
three other sons of Capt. Simonton served on the Niagara in 
companies commanded by Capts. Allison, Canan and Vande- 
vender. While these companies were encamped in Cattaraugus, 
N. Y., soldiers saw there a white man, who had an Indian 
family and had become one with the Senecas. A strong re- 
semblance was remarked between him and the Simontons. On 
being questioned he said his name was John "Sims," that he was 
carried off from the Juniata when a child, and recalled other 
things associated with the Simonton family, leaving no doubt as 
to his identity. He met his brothers, but while talking to them, 
"his wife took him away, and he was not seen again by them 
while they remained there." Like "White Chief" the father of 
Seneca White Thomas Armstrong, Mary Jemison, Rebecca 
Hempferman and a few others, brought to our region captive 
before the era of settlement, his later history is merged in the 
scantily-recorded annals of his adoptive people. 
Jones, "History of the Juniata Valley." 



SKENANDOAH. Oneida Indian, born at Conostoga on the Susque- 
hanna about 1706; in the early years of the Revolution he lived 
at Oneida Castle, 35 miles west of Herkimer. In the winter of 
1780 he went with two companions to Fort Niagara "under pre- 
tence of relieving the sufferings of those Oneidas who were 
prisoners at that place." They were bearers of a friendly letter 
from the Oneida chiefs to the commandant. Mr. Dean, U. S. 
interpreter, states that the journey was undertaken by the advice 
of Gov. Clinton, Gen. Schuyler and the commandant at Fort 
Stanwix, who supplied necessaries for the journey. At Fort 
Niagara Skenandoah and his comrades were suspected, taken 
prisoners and confined three months in irons. They were re- 
leased after having made promise to remain with the British dur- 
ing the war. Skenandoah and one of his companions did so, 
returning to their nation after peace was declared; the other 
companion appears to have deceived the British, for he hastened 
to Albany with valuable information regarding Fort Niagara. 
Skenandoah died in 1816, said to have reached the age of no 
years. He was a friend of the missionary Kirkland, and a monu- 
ment is erected to him at Hamilton College. 

Schoolcraft, "History of the Indian Tribes," etc., vol. v, Phila- 
delphia, 1855. 

SKYLES, JACOB. While taking a cargo of goods down the Ohio, 
spring of 1790, in company with Col. George Clendiner, Charles 
Johnston, and others, he was decoyed ashore and made prisoner ; 
carried to an Indian town on the Miami, where he was compelled 
to run the gauntlet ; was condemned to the stake, but escaped at 
night, swam the Miami, stole a horse and set out, as he supposed, 
in the direction of Kentucky, but got lost, traveled north, came 
into a Miami town, where he sought out a trader, who helped him 
to hasten by boat down the river ; he overtook a trading party, 
who took him to Detroit, whence, after some days of conceal- 
ment, he was sent down Lake Erie, and by way of Fort Niagara 
on East. He subsequently settled in Kentucky, and on the bank 
of the Ohio, near where he had been taken in 1790, recovered 
some $200 in gold which he had buried there. 

"Narrative . . . Capture ... of Charles Johnston," 
etc., N. Y., 1827. 

SLOCUM, FRANCES. Was less than five years old when she was taken 
captive, Nov. 2, 1778, at Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Her father, Jonathan 
Slocum, a Quaker, escaped at the time, but in December was shot 
and scalped. Frances was brought into the Seneca country of 
Western New York and to Fort Niagara before her adoption by 
the Senecas. In 1784, shortly after the peace, two of her brothers 
came to Fort Niagara in quest of her, but learned nothing. In 
1789 her mother came to the fort riding horseback 300 miles 
through the wilderness but returned to her home in the Wyom- 
ing valley with no clue of the child, who at the time was in one of 
the near-by Seneca villages. In 1791 a brother, Giles Slocum, 


came to Buffalo Creek and the Niagara with Col. Thomas Proc- 
tor; but he too failed to get trace of his sister, who was then 
living with a Seneca family at Cornplanter's town on the Alle- 
gheny. In 1794, four Slocum brothers together devoted a sum- 
mer to the search, visiting Fort Niagara and Detroit, but the 
Indians kept Frances without discovery. Her family knew noth- 
ing of her whereabouts until August, 1837, fifty-nine years after 
her capture, when a letter in the Lancaster (Pa.) Intelligencer, 
written by Col. Geo. W. Ewing of Logansport, Ind., and dated 
a year and a half previous, mentioned an aged white woman 
then living in that vicinity among the Miamis, whose father's 
name was Slocum. Her brothers Joseph and Isaac, then still 
living, went to Logansport and identified the woman as their 
lost sister. 

Many early accounts of Frances Slocum's captivity are super- 
seded by the volume, "Frances Slocum, the Lost Sister of Wyom- 
ing," compiled and written by her grand-niece, Martha Bennett 
Phelps. (N. Y., 1905.) It gives Frances' own recollections of 
her captivity, and other related matter of interest. Frances her- 
self said: "I was adopted by Tuck Horse [the Delaware who 
had stolen her] and his wife, in the place of a daughter they had 
lost a short time before, and they gave me her name, We-let-a- 
wash. ... In the spring we went to Sandusky . . . but in 
the fall we came back, and we lived one year at Niagara. I recol- 
lect that the Indians were afraid to cross above the Falls, on 
account of the rapidity of the water. I also recollect that they 
had a machine by which they raised goods from below the Falls, 
and let things go down [no doubt the incline built by the English 
at Lewiston heights]. ... I was married to a Delaware by 
the name of Little Turtle. ... I was afterward married to 
a Miami, a chief." Of her four children, two boys died young; 
one daughter married Capt. Brouillette, of part French ancestry, 
a member of the Miami tribe; and the other daughter married 
an Indian. Frances died March 9, 1847, and is buried in the 
Indian cemetery near Reserve, Ind. Numerous relatives and 
descendants are living. A monument was unveiled at her tomb r 
with ceremonies, in 1900. 

Published statements attributed to the late Gen. Ely S. Parker 
are to the effect that his great-grandmother was a captive white 
woman named Slocum ; that she married a French officer at Fort 
Niagara, "where her Indian relatives had taken her on one of 
their trading expeditions. The Indians were at the fort for some 
time, and when they were ready to leave she did not want to 
leave her French husband, but her Indian relatives compelled her 
to return with them to Alleghany," and there a ch'ld was born 
to her who became grandmother of Gen. Parker. By the aid of 
a Quaker named Jacobs, who sought to return her to her family, 
the Slocum woman escaped down the Allegheny, with her child; 
the Indians pursued and retook her, but finally took only her 
child back with them, permitting her to rejoin her family. The 

child married Parker, and had three sons, Samuel, 

William and another. She died at Tonawanda, between 1821 and 


1825. Her son William, who was the father of Gen. Ely S. 
Parker, died in April, 1864, aged about 75 years. He was in the 
War of 1812, and was wounded in the battle of Chippewa. His 
brother Samuel died about 1879 or 1880, aged about 90. 

While many of these statements relating to the Parkers are 
beyond question, it is impossible to reconcile this account of 
Frances Slocum's marriage to a French officer with the account 
of her captivity and Indian marriages which are preserved by her 
descendants. Gen. Parker's autobiography (Buffalo Historical 
Society Publications, vol. viii, p. 528) says that he "was born of 
poor but honest Indian parents in Genesee County." If one of 
his grandmothers had been a white woman (child of the French 
officer and Quaker Frances), Gen. Parker would probably have 
mentioned it. He is usually spoken of as a full-blooded Seneca; 
yet some of the Parkers who claim relationship to him, allege 
that Frances Slocum was his ancestor. True, there may have 
been another captive white woman named Slocum. Gen. Parker 
himself once wrote : "The name Parker was my father's English 
name, given him by an English captive taken perhaps during the 
Revolution, and who was adopted into my father's immediate 
family. An Indian name was given the captive and as a return 
compliment the captive conferred his civilized name upon my 
father and his brother. The children of the brothers adopted 
the English name, but it made no change in the use of their 
Indian names." 

SMITH (Col.) JAMES. Early in the year 1759 he arrived at Fort 
Niagara from Detroit, in an elm-bark canoe with two Indians ; 
and passed on to Montreal. He was born in Franklin Co., Pa., 
in 1737; was taken prisoner by the Indians in 1755, near Bedford, 
Pa., was adopted by a Caughnewago family, and lived with them, 
most of the time in the neighborhood of Detroit, Sandusky and 
along the south shore of Lake Erie. He was at Fort Niagara, 
on his way to Montreal, where he was exchanged in 1760. 

"An account of the Remarkable Occurrences in the Life and 
Travels of Col. James Smith . . . during his captivity with 
the Indians, in the years 1755, '56, '57, '58 and '59 ... Lex- 
ington : Printed by John Bradford, on Main Street, 1799." 8vo., 

Exceedingly rare. Other editions, Philadelphia, 1834; Cin- 
cinnati, 1870. The principal facts of his captivity are also con- 
tained in his second work, "A Treatise on the Mode and Manner 
of Indian War . . . Some abstracts selected from his Journal, 
while in Captivity," etc.; I2mo., pp. 1-59. Paris, Kentucky, 
printed by Joel R. Lyle, 1812. See also Jones' "History of the 
Juniata Valley." 

One curious result of Col. Smith's captivity was a memorial 
which he addressed, March 10, 1777, to the Executive Council of 
"the Common Welth of Pennsylvania," in which he urged the 
adoption of the Indian method of fighting which, he had learned 
from experience, "has a surprising effect of Deminishing the 
numbers of the Enemy, who are unacquainted with it." "Your 


memorialist having been Prisoner nearly five years among the 
Indians, and many years acquainted with thire method of fighting, 
while engaged in Repelling thire invasions of our frunteers," he 
advocated the organization of "a Battalion of Rifflemen to anoy 
the Enemy on thire marches," and pledged himself, if the council 
would permit, "in a very Short time [to] Raise a Battalion of 
Choise men, good marks men, and well acquainted with the 
Business, who should think it thire honour to Render thire coun- 
terey an Essential Sarvice at this Critical Conjunction of Publick 
affairs." I find no record that this apparently practical sugges- 
tion was acted upon. 

SMITH, JOHN, of Mercer's Company, Virginia regiment, surrendered 
to the French at Great Meadows, July 4, 1754. Sent to Canada 
in custody of the Indian who took him ; left Fort Du Quesne a 
few days after the battle, following the route by way of the 
French posts to Fort Niagara, thence down the lake to Montreal. 
Stobo's "Memoirs." 

SMITH, JOSEPH. Captured when a youth by the Indians at Cherry 
Valley, November, 1778. Was probably taken that fall to Fort 
Niagara. In the summer of 1781 he was living with an Indian 
family at Little Beard's Town. There Horatio Jones, also a 
captive, first met him in 1781, when began their friendship of 
many years. In 1786 Smith built a log house on the present site 
of Geneva, N. Y., where his friend Jones had already established 
himself. He served as interpreter at Indian land sales, moved to 
Canandaigua in 1789, and in 1792 shared in the conduct of a party 
of Indian chiefs to Philadelphia for conference with the Govern- 

"The Life of Horatio Jones," Buffalo Historical Society Pub- 
lications, vol. vi. 

SNYDER, JOHN. Known after the Revolution as "Schoharie John." 
Captured July 26, 1782, by the tory captain Adam Crysler and 
his party of whites and Indians, some twenty-five in all. Crysler 
at this time visited several settlements in the Schoharie valley, 
Snyder being taken near Beaver Dam, not far from the junction 
of the Schoharie and the Cobleskill. The second day the old 
southwest path was taken, Peter Zimmer and George Warren, 
Jr., being fellow prisoners. At Fort Niagara, or subsequently, 
Snyder enlisted in the British service as his friends afterward 
claimed, that he might have an opportunity to desert and return 

SOLVIGNAC, . Officer in the regiment of Beam, prisoner of 

war at Fort Niagara, July 25, 1759, with Pouchot, q. v. 

SPENCER, OLIVER M. Son of Col. Oliver Spencer of Columbia, O. 
Taken prisoner in July, 1792, near Fort Washington (Cincinnati), 
Ohio, being not quite twelve years old. He was taken to the 
Miami, where after some months a prisoner named Wells saw 
him, learned of his family at Fort Washington, and sent report 
of the lad to Col. Wilkeson at Fort Washington. Letters were 
obtained through the influence of General Washington, from the 


British Minister at Philadelphia, to Col. Simcoe, Governor of 
Upper Canada; and an agent was dispatched by the prisoner's 
friends to Fort Niagara. Young Spencer spent the winter of 
1792-93 in the Shawanese villages, learning in February that an 
agent had come to Detroit to release him ; Col. Elliott, the British 
Indian agent, paid the Indians $120, and he was taken to Detroit, 
reaching there March 3d; at the end of March he sailed on the 
sloop Felicity, reaching Fort Erie April I5th; and on April 17, 
1793, he reached Fort Niagara and was welcomed by Lieutenant 
Hill, of the 5oth Regiment. After some days, with Nathaniel 
Gorham and a colored servant, Spencer traveled on horse-back 
to Canandaigua, and in June proceeded to New York, meeting 
friends at Elizabethtown, N. J. In September, 1794, he returned 
to his parents at Columbia, O. 

"Narrative of O. M. Spencer; comprising an account of his 
captivity among the Mohawk Indians, in North America," etc.; 
London, 1836; 2d ed. London, 1842; 3d ed., N. Y., 1854. Origin- 
ally written for the Western Christian Advocate. 

STACIA (Lt.-Col), - . Taken at Cherry Valley, Nov. n, 1778. 
Molly Brant had a deadly aversion to him. "She resorted to the 
Indian method of dreaming," says Campbell, in his "Annals of 
Tryon County," describing Col. Stacia's captivity at Fort Niag- 
ara. "She informed Col. Butler that she dreamed she had the 
Yankee's head, and that she and the Indians were kicking it about 
the fort. Col. Butler ordered a small keg of rum to be painted 
and given to her. This for a short time appeased her, but she 
dreamed a second time that she had the Yankee's head, with his 
hat on, and she and the Indians were kicking it about the fort for 
a football. Col. Butler ordered another keg of rum to be given 
to her, and then told her, decidedly, that Col. Stacia should not be 
given up to the Indians." 

STEVENS, NICHOLAS. William Prentup wrote to Sir Wm. Johnson 
from Fort Ontario (Oswego), Aug. 27, 1763 : "Yesterday arrived 
here the schooner Mercury from Niagara with Jacobus van Eps 
and Nicholas Stevens on board with some other traders who had 
been taken prisoners this spring. . . ." 
Johnson MSS., State Library, Albany. 

STEVENS, JAMES. One of Capt. Alexander Harper's party, brought 
to Fort Niagara in 1780 by Brant. 

STEVENS, NEHEMIAH. Same experience as Andrew McBriar, q. v. 

STOBO, (Major) ROBERT. Not an Indian prisoner, but a hostage of the 
French, and as such brought to Fort Niagara, en route to Que- 
bec. Born in Glasgow, 1727; was made captain in a Virginia 
regiment, March, 1754; with the British and Colonial troops 
which were taken by the French at Great Meadows, July 4th; 
with a companion, Jacob Van Braam, Stobo was delivered up as 
hostage, the other prisoners being allowed to return home. The 
twain were sent to Fort Du Quesne, of which Stobo made a plan 
and sent it to Gen. Washington. The "Memoirs" of Stobo state 


that "the French removed their hostage from one fort to another, 
though the whole chain of them, from Fort Du Quesne down to 
Quebec, which is about 300 leagues, with this advantage to him- 
self, that he had liberty to go and come as he pleased all about 
the country." Stobo left Fort Du Quesne Sept. 20, 1754. His 
progress familiarized him with Forts Venango, Le Boeuf, and 
Presqu' Isle, Fort Niagara and its dependencies. His subsequent 
adventures include episodes of gallantry (he was a ladies' man) 
and of bold undertakings. He twice escaped from prison in 
Quebec; joined Wolfe, and after many hazards, reached Williams- 
burgh, Va., and received "the warmest thanks of the whole Assem- 
bly of Virginia." Stobo is said to have been Smollet's original 
for Captain Lismahago in "The Adventures of Humphrey 
Clinker" ; not unlikely, for Smollet and Stobo were friends. It is 
a pity there is not a worthy record of so picturesque a character. 
Our principal source of information, the "Memoirs of Major 
Robert Stobo ; of the Virginia Regiment," by Neville B. Craig 
(Pittsburgh, 1854), is conspicuous for its omission of the his- 
torically-essential, and is most absurdly written. 

STOCKTON, ISABEL. A Dutch girl, taken captive Oct. I, 1757, at Win- 
chester, Va. She was found among other prisoners at Fort Niag- 
ara when the British captured it, July 25, 1759. 
N. Y. Mercury, Aug. 20, 1759. 

STOKELY (Capt.) - . Taken on the Ohio, Aug. 24, 1781. 

Brought to Fort Niagara, and sent thence to Montreal, where he 

arrived with thirty others, Nov. 28, 1781. 

Haldimand MSS. 
STOWITS, MICHAEL. Made captive with Rudolf Keller, q. v. 

STROPE, SEBASTIAN. Numerous members of his family taken captive 
at Wysox, Bedford Co., Pa., May, 1778, and after detention at 
various places, carried to Fort Niagara. Among them was 
Strope's daughter, Mrs. Jane Whittaker, q. v. 

STUERDFAGES, DANIEL (name doubtful, but so printed). Of 
Mackay's company, Virginia regiment; wounded in the right arm 
at battle of Great Meadows, July 4, 1754; taken prisoner by the 
Indians, and sent with his Indian captors by way of the French 
posts to Fort Niagara and thence to Canada. 
Stobo's "Memoirs." 

SULLIVAN, NATHANIEL. Taken captive on the Potomac, Sept. 25, 
1758. Found a prisoner at Fort Niagara when the British took 
it, July 25, 1759. 

N. Y. Mercury, Aug. 20, 1759. 

SWART, PETER. Taken captive in the Schoharie valley in the sum- 
mer of 1778, by the treachery of a companion, Abraham Becker, 
apparently a British sympathizer, for he betrayed Swart and one 
Frederick Shafer into the hands of a party of Indians. Shafer 
was taken to a "Canadian prison," locality not stated, returning 
to Schoharie after the war. Swart was taken to Niagara, then 


by Western Indians beyond Detroit, where he took an Indian 
wife and adopted the Indian life. 

Simms, "History of Schoharie County, and Border Wars of 
New York," Albany, 1845. 

SWEETLAND, LUKE (name sometimes printed "Swetland"). He bore 
arms in defense of Wyoming, July, 1778, and soon after joined 
the company commanded by Capt. Spalding. He was taken pris- 
oner with Joseph Blanchard, near Nanticoke, where they had 
gone to mill, Aug. 24, 1778, and both were carried to Kanadesaga; 
possibly also to Fort Niagara. Sweetland was rescued by the 
army under Sullivan in 1779. 

TAGGART, . Carried prisoner to Fort Niagara in the sum- 
mer of 1779, by a party of British and Indians under command 
of a Loyalist named McDonald, and the Seneca brave Hiakato, 
the latter husband of Mary Jemison, "the White Woman of the 
Genesee." Taggart, who was one of many taken at Freeling's Fort 
on the west branch of the Susquehanna, was in the encampment 
at the mouth of the Tioga at the time of Capt. Rowland Mon- 
teur's death, and was, plausibly, a witness of his burial. Our 
knowledge that the modern village of Painted Post derived its 
name from the planting of a painted stake at Monteur's grave, 
apparently rests on the testimony of Taggart, who after his re- 
lease from captivity narrated these events to Benjamin Patterson, 
a famous hunter and pioneer of Steuben County, and to others. 
Details of Taggart's experiences at Fort Niagara are lacking. 

McMasters' "History of the Settlement of Steuben Co.," 
(Bath, N. Y., 1853), in which the above statements occur, gives 
the date of Taggart's captivity as 1779; which does not accord 
with other accounts of Monteur's death, stated to have occurred 
in September, 1781. 

TANNER, JACOB. Born at Lancaster,- Pa., December, 1745; taken 
captive near Currytown, N. Y., with his neighbor Frederick 
Olman (Utman), John Lewis and others. So far as known 
shared the experiences of John Lewis (q. v.). He was first taken 
to Fort Hunter, thence to Fort Niagara, Sackett's Harbor, "Island 
of Despair" in the St. Lawrence, and Montreal ; released with 
John Lewis and others at Boston, "whence he walked home, 240 
miles, and found his house burned by the Indians." He subse- 
quently lived at Sharon, N. Y., and April 18, 1833, applied for a 
pension, which was granted. He married Maryte Lewis, sister 
of John Lewis. 

Tanner's pension record, in possession of Mr. John C. Pearson, 
Cleveland, O.; Simms, "Frontiersmen of New York." 

TANNER, JACOB. So far as known, shared the experiences of Rudolf 
Keller, q. v. 

TEABOUT, CORNELIUS. One of the party of fourteen, headed by 
Capt. Alexander Harper, taken prisoners by Brant near Harpers- 
field in the Schoharie valley, April 7, 1780. See HARPER, ALEX- 


THORP, EZRA. Taken by Brant on the Schoharie, in Capt. Alexander 
Harper's party, April 7, 1780. Experiences same as those of 
Harper and Freegift Patchin, q. v. 

THORP (Lieut.) HENRY. Same experience in captivity, so far as 
known, as his brother Ezra. See HARPER, ALEXANDER, and 

TRACY, (Lieut.) . Taken at Cherry Valley and carried pris- 
oner to Niagara. 

Mentioned in Priest's "True Narrative of the Capture of 
David Ogden," Lansingburgh, 1840. 

TRIPP, ISAAC. In the fall of 1778, after the battle of Wyoming, he 
set out from the vicinity of Wyoming, with his grandfather, Isaac 
Tripp, Timothy Kies and a Mr. Hocksey, to go to Capouse, now 
Providence, to see if they could find anything left of their effects. 
A party of Indians and tories surprised them, killed Kies and 
Hocksey, told the old man Tripp to go home, and took young 
Isaac with them to Niagara. 

TURNER, JAMES. A young man captured by Brant and party at 
Schoharie, with the Vroomans, Aug. 9, 1780. He was brought 
to Fort Niagara. No further mention of him is found, but he 
was probably sent to Montreal in the fall of 1780, with other 
captives from Schoharie, and exchanged. 


UTMAN, FREDERICK. A fellow prisoner of Rudolf Keller, q. v. 

UTMAN, NICHOLAS. Made captive, with his brothers Peter and 
William, and several neighbors, at Cobleskill, N. Y., September, 
1781. Simms ("Schoharie County") says they were carried over 
"the usual southwestern route to Niagara." 


VAN BRAAM (Capt.) JACOB. Given by the English as hostage to the 
French, after the battle of Great Meadows, July 4, 1754. He ap- 
pears to have been sent, with Capt. (later Major) Robert Stobo, 
by way of Fort Niagara to Montreal or Quebec. 

VAN CAMPEN (Maj.) MOSES. Born in Hunterdon Co., N. J., Jan. 21, 
1757. Taken prisoner on Fishing Creek, Pa., spring of 1780, and 
escaped, he and a companion killing five of their captors and 
wounding a sixth. Recaptured April 16, 1782, on Bald Eagle 
creek; carried to Caneadea, where he ran the gauntlet; thence 
taken by Lieut. Nellis to Fort Niagara, by way of Buffalo creek. 
He was offered a British commission, but refused it', and after a 
short detention at the fort was sent to Montreal. After many 
adventures he reached his Pennsylvania home, January, 1783. 
In 1796 he settled at what is now Almond, Allegany Co., N. Y. ; 
in 1801 visited Buffalo (then New Amsterdam) and Niagara 
Falls ; in subsequent years was active as a pioneer surveyor, held 


numerous minor offices, removed to Dansville, N. Y., 1831, and 
to Almond 1848, dying there, Oct. 15, 1849. 

"Life and Times of Major Moses Van Campen," etc., by J. 
Niles Hubbard ; Dansville, 1841 ; 2d ed. revised and supplemented 
by Jno. S. Minard, Fillmore, N. Y., 1893. 

VAN DE BERGH, DAVID. Taken in April, 1780, probably in the Mohawk 
valley; was a prisoner at Fort Niagara in May of that year. 
Haldimand MSS. 

VAN DER HEYDER, DYRICK. Shared the adventures of Johannes 
Rooseboom and the Harmetsens, q. v. 

VAN EPPS, EVART. Made captive near the present village of Fulton- 
ville, N. Y., Oct. 24, 1781, by Maj. Ross and party. He was 
brought to Fort Niagara with Rudolf Keller (q. v.) and numerous 
other captives; was transferred and exchanged, reaching home 
some eighteen months after being taken. 


VELT family. Details of captivity not known. Arrived in Montreal 
from Fort Niagara, Oct. 4, 1782. 
Haldimand MSS. 

VERNEY, (Capt.) OLIVER DE LA ROCHE. Captain of the Marine. Pris- 
oner of war at Fort Niagara, July 25, 1759, with Pouchot, q. v. 

VILAR, (Capt.) . Captain in the regiment of La Salle. Pris- 
oner of war at Fort Niagara, July 25, 1759, with Pouchot, q. v. 

VINCENT, BENJAMIN. Taken captive at the age of ten or eleven 
years, in the attack on Freeland's Fort, Warrior Run, four miles 
from present Watsontown, Pa., July 29, 1779. A brother, three 
years older, who was taken at the time, attempting to escape, the 
Indians tomahawked him, "tore off his scalp and slapped it, 
dripping with blood, in Ben's face. Heedless of his own fate, 
Ben sprang at the murderer and kicked and bit in a frenzy of 
passion. His anger seemed to please the savages; they laughed 
at him, called him 'good fighter,' and finally bound him to keep 
him quiet." The captives, including Ben and young Michael 
Freeland (q. v.) were brought to Buffalo Creek, where they were 
made to run the gauntlet. "When Ben's turn came to make the 
run he suddenly picked up two stones as large as goose-eggs, 
clapped them sharply together, and then, lifting them in plain 
view and ready to be hurled at the first offender, with defiant air 
and blazing eyes he marched through the lines of young Indians, 
not one of whom ventured to strike him." His conduct won the 
approval of the warriors, one of whom adopted him, and in his 
family Ben lived, well treated, for three years. He was one of 
the first, if not the very first, of white residents in Buffalo. The 
chronicler of this captivity says that although the Indians admired 
his bold spirit, they never fully trusted him, believing he would 
escape if opportunity offered. His usual companion was a young 
Indian, with whom he sometimes quarreled. "One day, fishing in 
Buffalo creek, one of these disputes grew to a struggle in which 


the anger of each ran high. Looking about for any kind of 
weapon Ben observed the skeleton of a horse, and breaking away 
from his antagonist and seizing a heavy bone, with a single blow 
on the head he felled him to the ground." Ben dragged the dying 
Indian to the creek, "threw him in and stood upon him till he was 
not only dead, but till he pressed the body into the soft mud of 
the bottom so deep it would stay there out of sight." He then 
returned to the lodge, accounted plausibly for the Indian boy's 
absence, and in the night, having secured a gun, ammunition and 
some dried meat, started for the Niagara river. He hoped to 
find a canoe along the bank; instead, he encountered an Indian 
from the village on Buffalo creek, who demanded what he was 
doing there with a gun that did not belong to him? The reply 
did not satisfy the Indian, who tried to seize the gun; in the 
scuffle, Ben shot him through the breast, dead. "Here was a 
double necessity for flight ; the river must be crossed, and at once. 
The gun, too heavy to swim with, was hid in a hollow tree. 
Wrapping his scanty clothing in a bundle, which he tied on his 
head, Ben struck out for the Canadian shore. He was a good 
swimmer -and life was at stake; with no haste, no nervous beat- 
ing of the water, but with a strong, steady stroke and unflinching 
courage, he swam on and made the crossing." The narrative 
(which is here much condensed) has at this point some obvious 
discrepancies. It relates how he walked down the river, and "at 
the head of Lake Ontario" found a British sloop. It was prob- 
ably at the outlet of the Niagara; how he evaded the officers at 
the fort is not stated. "Straight to the captain (of the sloop) he 
went, told his story and asked protection. He was promptly re- 
fused. The captain didn't 'care a d n what becomes of a rebel 
and the slayer of Indian allies of our soldiers. I hope the red- 
skins will get you. At least I won't help you off, and run the 
risk of trouble for giving help to the enemy.' " Later, with the 
connivance of sailors, he swam to the vessel, was helped aboard 
and kept out of sight until she was well under way for Montreal. 
When the captain did see him, he angrily boxed his ears and set 
him to washing decks. Approaching Montreal, the sailors ad- 
vised him to swim ashore, and thus perhaps escape being handed 
over to the authorities. This he did, and ultimately found work 
with a kind Jew. One day, while carrying a small iron kettle, he 
suddenly met with his adoptive father and three other Indians 
from Buffalo Creek. They hemmed him in on all sides except 
towards the river, and that way Ben ran, with the little iron 
kettle on his head; leaped into the river, followed by a flight of 
arrows. He swam as far as he could under water, then rose to 
the surface. "With his first breath an arrow ponged into the 
water a foot to the right of his head; but a tomahawk, better 
aimed, shattered the kettle to pieces. The blow dazed him for 
an instant, but the little kettle had saved his life for the moment." 
He was pulled aboard a vessel by sailors who had witnessed the 
pursuit, and given protection by a captain who admired his 
pluck. Some days later he was sent down Lake Champlain and 
the Hudson, to New York. Thirty years later, while keeping a 
hotel near Orange, N. J., he received a letter from his old fellow- 


captive, "Mike" Freeland. The letter said that living near Free- 
land, in Western New York, was the Indian who had killed Vin- 
cent's brother. About a month later Vincent appeared at Free- 
land's door and asked where he could find the Indian. He was 
told the Indian had gone fishing ; and at once took after him with 
his gun. Soon after, the Indian, unsuspecting, came home and 
was told that Ben Vincent was looking for him; whereupon the 
Indian took his gun and disappeared in the woods. Two days 
later Ben returned to Freeland's house, and made inquiries, 
obviously studied, about the Indian. The Indian never reap- 
peared, and Vincent went back to New Jersey; but whether he 
had three Indian lives to account for, or only two, he never told. 
The foregoing is condensed from a long narrative told by 
Richard Peterson, Vincent's nephew, printed in the Los Angeles 
(Cal.) Herald, about 1900. Some corroborative facts regarding 
the captivity of Vincent and Freeland are also given in "Frontier 
Forts of Pennsylvania." 

VROOMAN, BARNEY. Son of Capt. Tunis Vrooman, captive with 
Capt. Ephraim Vrooman, q. v. 

VROOMAN, BARTHOLOMEW. Son of Ephraim Vrooman, q. v. 

VROOMAN, (Lieut.) EPHRAIM. Of the raid of the Schoharie valley 
settlements by Brant and some 70 or more braves, in August, 
1780, there are numerous though not altogether consistent 
accounts. It was a retaliatory and most effective stroke for the 
devastation worked by Sullivan the year before in the Seneca 
lake and Genesee country. ' Of the captivity of Lieut. Ephraim 
Vrooman, and many of his relatives and neighbors, the most de- 
tailed account is to be found in Simms' "History of Schoharie 
County." Several of the Vroomans were killed on August 9th, 
the day of the attack. On the next day, several of the women 
and children who had been taken prisoners, were released by 
Brant, and sent back to Schoharie. One account says that 
Rosanna Vrooman, a young woman, cousin of Ephraim, was kept 
with the prisoners for some days, then stripped of her clothing, 
and entirely naked, with the child of a murdered mother in her 
arms, was sent back to the despoiled settlement. The more de- 
tailed narrative records the murder of the wife and two youngest 
children of Lt. Vrooman, and the release by Brant of all the 
women except the wife of Simon Vrooman. Others of the 
captive band were Simon Vrooman and Jacob his son ; Ephraim's 
two sons, Bartholomew and Josias E. ; Tunis, John, Barney and 
Peter Vrooman, four sons of Capt. Tunis Vrooman, who was 
tomahawked in the attacks ; Henry Hager, aged 80 ; two Germans, 
Creshiboom and Hoffman; John Daly, Thomas Meriness, James 
Turner, and others, names not known ; and several negro slaves. 
A party of some 30 or more captives, they were brought to Fort 
Niagara by way of Oquaga on the Susquehanna (near Bingham- 
ton), and the Genesee valley. In the fall of 1780 all but Meriness 
appear to have been exchanged at Montreal. 




VROOMAN, JOSIAS E. Son of Ephraim Vrooman of Schoharie, whose 
captivity he shared, for the most part. When the prisoners from 
Schoharie were being brought to Fort Niagara, Josias, with 
others claimed by the Senecas, was separated from the main 
party, on the Susquehanna, and sent up the Chemung valley with 
a party of warriors. "In the Genesee valley he saw a stake 
planted in the ground, some five or six feet high, which was 
painted red and sharpened at the top, on which was resting a 
fleshless skull." The Indians told the prisoners it was the skull 
of Lieut. Boyd, who was killed in that vicinity the year before, 
and each of them was compelled to hold it. (Simms, "History of 
Schoharie Co.") Josias survived his captivity and reached home 
after an absence of a little more than a year. 


VROOMAN, SIMON. Experiences like those of Ephraim Vrooman, 
until near Fort Niagara, when he was so badly injured by Indian 
assaults, that he died soon after, apparently at the fort. 

VROOMAN, (Mrs.) SIMON. Experiences like those of Ephraim and her 
husband. Becoming ill in the Genesee valley, she was left behind 
at a Seneca town. Relatives afterward paid a ransom and got her 

VROOMAN, TUNIS. A young lad, whose father, Capt. Tunis Vroo- 
man, was tomahawked by Brant's Indians at Schoharie, Aug. 9, 
1780. Besides prisoners and other plunder, that party took from 
the Schoharie valley some ninety good horses, which they brought 
to Fort Niagara. Among them was a stallion of which the 
Indians were afraid, and which only young Tunis could manage. 
He was allowed to ride the spirited horse most of the way to 
Niagara, and thus was exempt from the usual abuse in passing 
through Indian villages, nor was he required to run the gauntlet. 
All the other prisoners of that party, except Mrs. Simon Vroo- 
man, walked the whole distance from Schoharie to Niagara. 

VROOMAN, (Capt.) WALTER. In October, 1780, he was sent by Gen. 
Van Rensselaer, with a company of fifty men, from Fort Schuyler 
to Oneida lake, to destroy the boats which had been concealed by 
Col. John Johnson and Brant, then raiding the Mohawk and 
Schoharie valleys. They were all taken prisoners, Johnson hav- 
ing been apprised of the move, it is said, by one of Vrooman's 
own men. The prisoners were taken to Montreal, by what route 
is uncertain, but as a general thing at that time American cap- 
tives, taken in the Mohawk and Schoharie valleys, were first sent 
to Fort Niagara. It is recorded that Walter Vrooman was 
"incarcerated and did not see the sun again for two long years." 
Simms' "Schoharie County." 

VROOMAN, . Taken captive by Brant at the massacre of 

Cherry Valley. After the Revolution, Brant told John Fonda, at 
his house near Caughnawaga, that most of the atrocities at 
Cherry Valley were chargeable to Walter Butler, and related the 


following incident: Among the captives made by Brant, was a 
man named Vrooman, with whom he had a previous acquaint- 
ance. He concluded to give Vrooman his liberty, and after they 
had proceeded several miles on their journey, he sent him back 
about two miles, alone, to procure some birch bark for him ; 
expecting of course to see no more of him. After several hours 
Vrooman came hurrying back with the bark, which the chieftain 
no more wanted than he did a pair of goggles. Brant said he 
sent his prisoner back on purpose to afford him an opportunity to 
escape, but that he was so big a fool he did not know it ; and that 
consequently he was compelled to take him along to Canada. 
Many of the Cherry-valley prisoners were brought to Fort 

Simms' "History of Schoharie County, and Border Wars of 
New York." 

WALLACE (Quartermaster) . Taken prisoner with seven 

privates, at the Falls of the Ohio (near present Louisville), Sept. 
14, 1781. Sent to Fort Niagara, and forwarded to Montreal, 
reaching there Nov. 28, 1781. 
Haldimand MSS. 

WARNER, GEORGE, Sr. The most prominent and influential Whig 
taken captive in the Schoharie region during the Revolution; 
widely known to friend and foe, and an active member of the 
local committee of safety. From Nicholas Warner, his oldest 
son, Jeptha R. Simms in 1837 gathered the story of his captivity 
and that of his son George Warner, Jr. Both are recorded at 
length in the "History of Schoharie County," and but briefly 
summarized here. Warner, senior, was made a prisoner on Sun- 
day, Dec. ii, 1782, by the redoubtable Seth's Henry, a Mohawk, 
whose exploits at this period, between Fort Niagara and the 
Mohawk and Schoharie valleys, are dwelt on at length by Simms. 
George Warner, Jr., was taken by the same party, as were John 
Snyder, Peter Zimmer and others. The elder Warner was 
treated with great care and consideration Simms says, "with 
the care of a brother" all the way to Fort Niagara. On arriving 
at the Indian towns in Western New York, the Indian who had 
him especially in charge, "took him by the hand and led him 
unhurt outside the lines which had been formed for his reception, 
to the displeasure of those who had from infancy been taught to 
delight in tortures and cruelty. A prisoner being led by his 
captors outside the gauntlet lines, was an evidence of protection 
and exemption from abuse seldom ever violated." No doubt the 
expectation of unusual reward for a prisoner of unusual distinc- 
tion, prompted this treatment. From Fort Niagara Mr. Warner 
was sent to Rebel Island, near Montreal, and after an absence of 
eleven months reached home "by the northeastern route, coming 
through Hartford, Conn. ; and what was unusual, was better clad 
on his return than at the time of his capture." 

WARNER, GEORGE, Jun. Made a captive July 27, 1782, in the present 
town of Cobleskill, N. Y., by the tory partisans Adam and 
William Crysler and their Indian allies, chief among whom was 


the Schoharie chief Seth's Henry. The experiences of Warner, 
junior, were told by him to Simms the historian, and are recorded 
in "The History of Schoharie County" with more of detail than 
those of any other captive from that part of the country. With 
his father, John Snyder, Peter Zimmer and others, he was carried 
south, up the Schoharie, over the divide and down the Susque- 
hanna to Oquaga, and thence by one of the usual trails north- 
westerly to Fort Niagara. On the road, Warner ate "of a deer, 
a wolf, a rattlesnake, and a hen-hawk, but without bread or salt." 
With Zimmer he planned to escape, but the Indians became 
suspicious and kept a close watch. On the road they passed 
another party who were killing a prisoner in a strange mariner: 
"His captors had tied his wrists together and drawn them over 
his knees, after which a stick was passed under the knees and 
over the wrists, and a rope tied to it between them, and thrown 
over the limb of a tree. His tormentors then drew him up a 
distance and let him fall by slacking the rope ; continuing their 
hellish sport until the concussion extinguished the vital spark." 
Near the outlet of Seneca Lake young Warner had an altercation 
with Capt. Crysler, who taunted the prisoners and boasted that 
the King would conquer the rebels. For championing the 
Americans Warner was sentenced to be hanged. A noose was 
placed around his neck, but after some hours of apprehension he 
was allowed to go on as before. Among those who beat and 
abused young Warner and Zimmer, as they passed through the 
ordeal of the gauntlet in the Western New York villages, was 
Molly Brant. "On arriving within half a mile of Niagara, Peter 
Ball, who had removed at the beginning of the war to Cariada, 
from the vicinity of Schoharie, saw and recognized Warner y and 
led him away from the squaws and young Indians, who were 
besetting him at every step with some missile." Warner was 
kept a prisoner in the vicinity of Fort Niagara until after peace 
was proclaimed. For considerable part of his captivity he worked 
for a man living near the fort, who also employed Christian 
Price, a somewhat noted Virginian, q. v. Young Warner with 
twenty-three others prisoners ran away from Fort Niagara one 
Sunday night, apparently soon after peace was proclaimed in 
1783. They made their way to Oswego, whether by land or lake is 
not known, purchased provisions of the British soldiers, and 
"made the best of their way home, through the forest." Capt. 
George Warner died in 1844, in his 87th year. 

WELLER, DANIEL. Taken prisoner in Exeter, Pa., near the upper end 
of the Wyoming valley, June 30, 1778. Presumably sent to Fort 
Niagara, with other prisoners of the Wyoming fights. 

WESTERFIELD, MARY. Details of her captivity not known. With 56 
other prisoners she was sent from Fort Niagara to Montreal, 
arriving there Oct. 4, 1782. 
Haldimand MSS. 

"WHITE CHIEF." Family name unknown. Taken by the Indians, 
when a small child, in the Susquehanna valley; probably in the 
French war, prior to 1760, as he was an aged man in 1833, when 


he told as much of his story as he knew, to Mrs. Asher Wright at 
the Buffalo Creek mission. He spent practically his whole life 
among the Senecas, and was the father of Seneca White, White 
Seneca and John Seneca. 

WHITMOYER, GEORGE. Taken with two brothers and two sisters, in 
Lancaster County, Pa., apparently in 1782, by Senecas, and kept 
for a time captive at Tonawanda (old Seneca town). His sister 
Sarah, afterwards the wife of the captive Horatio Jones, passed 
her captivity in the Genesee valley and does not appear to have 
been brought to the Niagara. Name also written "Whitmore." 
"The Life of Horatio Jones" and "Sarah Whitmore's Cap- 
tivity," Buf. Hist. Soc. Pubs., vol. vi. 

WHITMOYER, JOHN. Shared the experiences of his brother George, 
as above. 

WHITMOYER, MARY. Sister of George, John and Peter Whitmoyer; 
taken with them and carried to Niagara by the Senecas; no data 
as to duration of her captivity. 

WHITMOYER, PETER. Brother of Mary, and taken with her to Niag- 
ara a prisoner of the Senecas. 

WHITTAKER, (Mrs.) JANE. She was taken prisoner, with many rela- 
tives and neighbors, in May, 1778, at Wysox, Bedford Co., Pa., 
where her father, Sebastian Strope, had settled in 1773. At 
Tioga Point Mrs. Whittaker and others were turned over to a 
British officer. While there she saw John Butler and his British 
and Indian forces embark for Wyoming. In July ('78) she was 
taken to Owego, Bainbridge and Unadika (? Unadilla), staying 
there several weeks, then returning in canoes to Tioga Point. 
She remained there "until a short time after the appearance of 
Col. Hartley and Maj. Zebulon Butler, in the fall, at the head of a 
respectable force which had been placed there to prevent a second 
attack upon Wyoming, and to protect the frontier." Then the 
Indians sent all their captives, including Mrs. Whittaker and the 
Strope family, to Fort Niagara. They were restored to their 
friends in the fall of 1780. Mrs. Whittaker died in 1852 at the 
home of her son in Toulon, 111. 

Mrs. Whittaker kept a journal of her captivity; it is cited in a 
letter written by Th. Maxwell (Elmira, Oct. 18, 1853) to Henry 
R. Schoolcraft, and printed in the appendix to vol. v, School- 
craft's "History of the Indian Tribes," etc. Mrs. Whittaker 
gives interesting data regarding Catharine Monteur and "Queen 
Esther" ; the latter had paid friendly visits to her father's family 
at Wysox before the capture, and at Tioga Point proved friendly 
and helpful to the prisoners. At Fort Niagara Mrs. Whittaker 
often saw Joseph Brant, and her journal contains a graphic de- 
scription of him. 

WIERBACH, . A daughter of John Wierbach, taken captive 

in Buffalo Valley, Pa., 1781, probably by the same war party that 
captured the Emericks. The Emerick women were brought to 
Fort Niagara, and apparently Miss Wierbach was with them. 


She married an Indian; and although after the war her father 
came in search of her and found her, he could not persuade her 
to return to Pennsylvania with him, she preferring her life among 
the Indians. 

Linn, "Annals of Buffalo Valley." 

WILLIAMS, ELIZABETH. According to Major Robert Stobo, she was 
with "Lowrey's traders" when they were taken prisoners by an 
Indian named English John, at Gist's place near Fort Necessity 
(battle of Great Meadows) July 4, 1754. The Indians took her to 
Fort Du Quesne, whence she was sent with others to Fort Niag- 
ara and thence to Canada. 
Stobo's "Memoirs." 

WILSON, JAMES. Aged 44. Captured somewhere in Pennsylvania, 
1782; sent to Montreal from Fort Niagara, August, 1783. 
Haldimand MSS. 

WILSON, JOHN. Aged 14, probably a son of James Wilson, men- 
tioned above, with whom he was taken in Pennsylvania in 1782 
and brought to Fort Niagara. Shipped to Montreal, August, 1783. 
Haldimand MSS. 

WOOD, JOHN. Fellow captive of Rudolf Keller, q. v. Wood was 
taken by Maj. Ross's party at Stone Ridge on the Mohawk, 
Oct. 24, 1782. 

WOOD (Capt.) . Said to have been taken by Joseph Brant at 

the Minisink massacre ; Brant claimed that he saved Wood's life. 
Wood was taken to Fort Niagara, where he remained until peace. 
Turner's "Holland Purchase," p. 262. 

YORK, . Taken along with John Jenkins, Jr., and Elemuel 

Fitch, near Standingstone, on the Susquehanna, November, 1778; 
carried to Fort Niagara, and sent down to Montreal for exchange. 
Name also written "Yorke." 

YOUNG, MARY. A young woman, daughter of Matthew Young, who 
lived on Spruce Run, near Lewisburg, Pa. She was taken by 
Indians, who had already in their hands Capt. James Thompson, 
in March, 1781. Thompson ultimately escaped, and it was from 
his narrative that the adventures of Mary Young are learned. 
She was carried over the White Deer mountains, north of Buffalo 
valley the Buffalo is a large tributary, from the west, of the 
West Branch of the Susquehanna to Towanda. "Her hard- 
ships," says Thompson, "were fearful. Often her clothes were 
frozen solid after wading the creeks." She was carried to one 
of the Indian towns, location not stated, but presumably on the 
Genesee, the Tonawanda or Buffalo Creek. "They set her to 
hoeing corn. An old negro, who was also a prisoner, told her to 
dig up the beans planted with the corn, and they would sell her 
to the English. She did as she was advised, and they thought 
her too stupid to learn to work, and sold her." From Fort 
Niagara she was sent to Montreal, and sold again. "Her pur- 
chaser's name was Young, and on tracing the relationship, they 


found they were cousins. She remained there until after the war, 
and then returned to her friends in Buffalo valley." Her health 
was undermined, and though living in 1787, is said to have died 
soon after. 

Linn, "Annals of Buffalo Valley, Pa." 

ZIELIE, (Capt.) . A militia officer, captured by Ross and his 

large party near Johnson Hall on the Mohawk, Oct. 25, 1781. So 
far as known he shared the experiences of his fellow captive, 
Rudolf Keller, q. v. 

ZIMMER, PETER. Of Schoharie, taken captive July 26, 1782, but 
evidently detained but a short time in Canada, for he reached 
home from Boston in December, 1782, with William Bouck, who 
had been carried off to Niagara the year before. He was taken 
to Fort Niagara in the same party as John Snyder and George 
Warner, Jr., q. v. Zimmer's experiences are related with those 
of Warner. At Fort Niagara Zimmer saw his brother's scalp, 
and others that he recognized, stretched upon hoops to dry, "with 
bushels of similar British merchandize, made up of the crown 
scalps of both sexes and all ages." (Simms.) There were about 
200 prisoners confined at Niagara at this time, several of whom 
died for want of food and proper treatment. Among the prisoners 
were nearly a hundred Virginia riflemen. See PRICE, CHRISTIAN. 






WAR OF 1812 









My parents were from the towns of Norwalk and Kent, 
in the State of Connecticut. My father was from Norwalk 
and my mother from Kent. My mother, Margaret Kins- 
man Marsh, was the daughter of Cyrus Marsh, who was 
the first Presbyterian clergyman settled in the township of 
Kent, according to Connecticut annals ; and he was also one 
of the five young gentlemen who constituted the first class 
on whom Yale College conferred its degrees, as will be seen 
by reference to the catalogue of the Alumni of that institu- 

After Cyrus Marsh graduated he was, in May, 1741, or- 
dained a minister, and sent as a missionary to the then new, 
if not frontier town of Kent, to preach, not only to the peo- 
ple of that town, but to a tribe of Indians known as the 
Schaticooks, living on a branch of the Housatonic, of the 
same name. 

i. Parnell St. John was born June 6, 1801, at Aurelius, near Auburn, 
Cayuga Co., N. Y., and was therefore in her thirteenth year when Buffalo was 
burned. At about the age of twenty-two she became the wife of Jonathan 
Sidway, who died in 1848. Mrs. Sidway died April 22, 1879, leaving two sons, 
Franklin and John, and a daughter, Mrs. Asaph S. Bemis. Her reminiscences 
were given in her old age, 1875 to 1877, at the solicitation of her brother, Dr. 
Orson S. St. John, and set down by him Mrs. Sidway being almost blind in 
her last years and deposited with the Buffalo Historical Society. They are 
now first published. 


Gamaliel St. John was born Sept. 22, 1766. He died 
June 6, 1813. My mother was born in Wilton, Conn., July 
15, 1768; died April 29, 1847. 

They were married in Kent October 16, 1788, and took 
up their residence in a house built by them in the village of 
Danbury, Connecticut, where they lived for several years, 
and until they had born unto them five children: Elijah 
Northrop, Maria, Aurelia, Cyrus Marsh, and Sarah. 

Partaking of the spirit of emigrating to the West, they 
moved to the town of Westmoreland, Oneida Co., N. Y., 
where was born their daughter Margaret. During their 
residence in Oneida County my father entered into contract 
with the proper persons for constructing a portion of the 
turnpike from Albany to Cayuga Lake. His contract called 
for the necessary work to be done on a section of seven or 
eight miles between the Cayuga and Owasco lakes. That 
work necessitated their removal to Cayuga County. During 
their stay in Cayuga there were born unto them three 
children, Parnell, Martha, and John Ransom. After living 
in Cayuga County six or seven years, and finishing the 
section of the road according to contract, and to the satis- 
faction and acceptance of the other parties, my father re- 
moved with his family, in the year 1807, to a farm in 
Williamsville, then Niagara County, now Erie County; on 
which farm is still to be seen the large spring that con- 
stitutes the source of the Mill Creek at the village of Wil- 
liamsville, and which is one of the tributaries of the Tona- 
wanda Creek. But he did not move his family until he had 
made, in the previous spring, a tour of observation that ex- 
tended all along the Niagara frontier. The farm thus 
selected was then the property of Mr. Andrew Ellicott, a 
brother of Joseph Ellicott. 

He had letters from Joseph Ellicott to Jonas Williams 
of Williamsville. As there is some discrepancy of opinion 
as to whether Mr. Joseph Ellicott did or did not accompany 
him to Williamsville, either on the occasion of his first or 
second visit, it is thought most probable by those of the 
family now living that at one or other of the times Mr. 


Joseph Ellicott gave him the letters to Mr. Williams, and 
that Mr. Andrew Ellicott did accompany him to Williams- 

While living at Williamsville there transpired the usual 
new country events, traditional in the family, of wild-cats 
and wolves among the flocks, and the hunting of them by 
the men and boys of the family ; of going to the mill at 
Batavia or at Niagara Falls, there being nothing but a 
saw-mill at Williamsville, built during the summer of 1807, 
the frame of which was put up by voluntary labor of the 
people, so desirous were they of having some way of get- 
ting lumber. The saw-mill frame was put up on Mr. 
Williams' land, and the necessary gearing and iron work 
were furnished by Mr. Joseph Ellicott. 

After residing three years on the farm at Williamsville, 
during which time was born Le Grand Canun St. John, 
father sold his farm to a man by the name of Frink, reserv- 
ing the privilege of cutting and hauling away logs for his 
own benefit. 

The family moved to Buffalo in the spring of 1810, hav- 
ing previously bought of Mrs. Chapman a claim for Lot 
No. 53, Holland Land Co. survey, on which was the frame 
for a house, forty feet square, standing on blocks, and back 
of which was an appendix of twenty feet square, one and a 
half stories high, enclosed and floored, having a chimney 
with the old-fashioned fireplace, and baking oven by the 
side of the fireplace. Lot 53 is directly opposite the Tifft 
House, which is on the site of the old Phoenix hotel. 2 

Into this apology for a house the family, then consisting 
of the parents and ten children, moved on or about the loth 
of May, 1 8 10. On the 28th day of that month, in the 
chamber of the above-mentioned appendix, was born the 
eleventh child, Orson Swift St. John. 

The price paid Mrs. Chapman for Lot 53 and appurten- 
ances was $4,000; and $200 paid to Mr. Ellicott procured 
the deed. 

2. Site now covered by the stores of the Wm. Hengerer Co. 


Mrs. Chapman before her marriage to Mr. Chapman 
was the Widow Hull; and the issue of the marriage with 
Mr. Hull was Mr. William Hull, the father of the present 
Mrs. O. G. Steele 3 and her deceased brother, who received 
the name of his father, William, and died at New Orleans 
while in discharge of his duties as an officer of the United 
States Navy. 

When young, my father was apprenticed, for seven 
years, from the age of fourteen until twenty-one years of 
age. That was the custom of the times, and taken from the 
English custom. The business to which he was apprenticed 
was the manufacturing of implements of agriculture and 
tools used by various mechanics, such as plows, harrows, 
scythes, planes, chisels, augurs, and their woodings, etc. 
In time he became skilled in the general use of the tools of 
the carpenter and the blacksmith. This experience, which 
goes so far to make up the universal Yankee, was, in a new 
country, of the utmost value to him as a contractor on the 
turnpike, as a farmer, and finally as a builder. 

When he went to get his deed from Mr. Ellicott, he pre- 
sented the contract, purchased from Mrs. Chapman, which 
was accepted as satisfactory, and the deed given. At that 
time, while in conversation, Mr. Ellicott made a solicitous 
request that he should undertake the iron work of the then 
contemplated jail to be built at Buffalo. Mr. Ellicott 
wanted some one to engage in that work who was not only 
capable, but responsible. Father said that he could do all 
of the work except the making of the locks. When Mr. 
Ellicott proposed to send to Philadelphia for skilled work- 
men for that special purpose a contract was made between 
them, the Philadelphia experts sent for, and the work, un- 
der the supervision and personal labor of my father was 
urged forward. At the same time that this work of the jail 
was going on, the work of finishing the house bought of 
Mrs. Chapman was progressing. There was also at that 
time in process of construction the first courthouse, a frame 

3. Died Aug. 17, 1875. 


building, being built by Ozial Smith, under contract with the 
same parties, who were on the part of the public directing 
the building of the jail, the chief spirit among whom was 
Mr. Joseph Ellicott. Mr. Ellicott's advice in all of these 
matters was the next thing to law. 

The lumber for the covering and finishing of the house 
purchased of Mrs. Chapman was all drawn from Williams- 
ville; the logs for which had been cut and drawn to the 
saw-mill during the winter previous (the winter of 1809- 
10). The shingles for the house were all made during the 
same winter by my father and his boys, Elijah and Cyrus. 
Much of this material was drawn in the winter before mov- 
ing to Buffalo, and the remainder was drawn afterwards as 
it could be got through the mill. The cellar was made of 
the dimensions of the whole house, and the stones with 
which the walls were laid up were drawn from the quarries 
of Judge Erastus Granger on the banks of the Three-mile 
Creek, east of the then village of Buffalo. That creek was 
known where it emptied into the Niagara River below the 
then ferry at the foot of Niagara Street as the Scajaquada, 
commonly pronounced Conjockada. 

The road then was in the usual condition of most if not 
all roads, through a new and timbered country, there being 
very little done except to cut the timber out sufficiently for 
the passage of teams and the making of causeways over the 
low and very wet grounds. The road from the Three-mile 
Creek was at first called four miles, and was throughout 
the entire distance from the creek to the "Cold Springs" 
covered with a log causeway. The road, from what was 
afterwards Walden's Hill to Chippewa Street and to North 
Church (Dr. Johnson's lot), was covered with a log cause- 
way. Between Chippewa Street and where the North 
Church now stands 4 was a log bridge over a ravine and low 
grounds, which extended nearly if not quite the entire dis- 
tance. Along this ravine ran a small stream heading on the 
east side of Main Street in the rear of what was afterwards 

4. West side of Main Street, below Chippewa. The North Presbyterian 
Church was torn down 1904. 


the lot and hat factory of Mr. Henry Campbell. The forest 
timber stood in its native condition on either side of the 
road, with exceptional little patches of clearing of a few 
square rods at long intervals as far down as to Tupper 
Street; and from thence the woods were cleared away in 
spots and more or less work done as people "took up" their 
lots and were in need of timber, firewood, and a garden 
spot to a point as low down in Main Street as to where the 
First Church stands. 5 There was the first considerable 
clearing. That ground did not have the appearance of hav- 
ing been cleared for any particular purpose, nor according 
to any previous design, but seemed from appearances, there 
being no stumps, but some second growth of small brush, 
to have been a camping and council ground of the Indians, 
and was then, in 1810, the locality where they received their 
annuties from the Government at the hands of the Indian 
agent, Mr. Granger. 

From Gillett's hill (the Terrace) to the Buffalo Creek, 
Main Street was causewayed, and the bridge over Little 
Buffalo Creek was made of logs, with a pier in the center of 
the stream and logs across the stringers. 

The road to and from the Indian village was down Main 
Street to the Big Buffalo Creek, and along the bank of the 
creek, passing Pratt's ferry, up to the Seneca village. The 
best road to Black Rock was down from Gillett's hill, along 
the west bank of the Little Buffalo Creek (Commercial 
Street) to the Big Buffalo Creek, thence along the Big Buf- 
falo to the lake, crossing a small stream ten feet wide and 
two and a half feet deep and going around a small bay be- 
fore getting to the beach of the lake ; thence down and along 
the beach of the lake to "Sandy Town"; thence keeping 
close to the water, turned around close to the "Black Rock" 
just where the canal enters the Black Rock harbor ; thence 
down and close along the foot of the hill where the railroad 
now runs until the ferry was reached, a point at the foot of 
Niagara Street. There was a longer and less inviting way 

5. Site of Erie County Savings Bank. 


by what was commonly called the Guideboard road, now 
North Street. Niagara Street had been marked and some 
work done on it. 

The house of my father, and of which we have been 
speaking, was finished in the fall and winter of 1810 with 
the pressing purpose in view of holding therein the New 
Year's ball of the coming first of January, 1811. That ball 
was held in the room intended for such purposes, and was 
attended by parties from a distance embracing the whole 
frontier. The population was so sparse that they must 
necessarily come from considerable distances to make up in 
numbers a respectable party. 

The political party strife which brought on the war of 
1812, and the consequent personal animosity between the 
Democrats and Federalists, ran so high at that date as very 
unmistakably to show itself in the calling together of that 
dancing party. There were a few Democrats present, but 
the principal number of the party were Federalists. My 
father was a Jeffersonian Democrat, and a zealous supporter 
of all the measures that tended to the declaration and prose- 
cution of the war. 

During the summer of 1811 nothing of particular moment 
took place in the village of Buffalo beyond the councils 
held by and between the Ogdens with their interpreters, 
Jasper Parrish and Horatio Jones, on the one part, and the 
Seneca Indians and their chiefs, assisted by Mr. Granger, 
on the other. The part which Mr. Granger acted was 
prompted and perhaps required by the United States Gov- 
ernment as its agent for that tribe. 

Red Jacket was present at this and all future councils, 
and successfully opposed all overtures made for the pur- 
chase of any portion of the lands which were held by the 
Indians under reservation and guarantee from the U. S. 
Government. His councils prevailed with his tribe so long 
as he lived, but not many years after his demise they were 
forgotten or overruled. 

Gen. Peter B. Porter had at first the exclusive right of 
purchase from the Indians, which right he sold to Ogden, 


and time has proved the wisdom of the Indian sale and re- 
movals, both for themselves and the city of Buffalo. 

During the summer of 1811 political animosities and 
party strife ran insanely zealous, extending their bitterness 
into individual business and social intercourse. Families 
were estranged from each other, indulging in the severest 
reflections, which were not believed by either party; and 
this very unprofitable spirit of crimination and recrimina- 
tion pervaded the whole body politic to the extent that their 
children in school took sides and, like their parents, were not 
particular as to the justice of their invectives. 

My father had, and still has, the reputation, among those 
who remember him, of being careful and deliberate of 
speech; his councils to his family were: "Be careful and 
think twice before you speak." My mother was of more 
irascible temperament. She was just, generous to the ex- 
tent of her means, and in all great and dark trials was first 
timid, then firm, deliberate, calm, and hopeful, relying upon 
her Heavenly Father to guide her out of impending difficul- 
ties. Yet in ordinary matters she was impetuous, irritable, 
impatient of opposition, self-reliant, positive in her counsels, 
and imperative in her commands. In all matters after the 
situation was comprehended, she was, as we shall hereafter 
see, as far as it is possible for any woman to be, equal to her 

In the spring of 1810, just before the family moved to 
Buffalo, my brother Elijah left Williamsville. He went to 
Erie and was in the service of Mr. Seth Reed, but returned 
after an absence of three months, and not being yet of age 
until in August, he handed over to his father the net earn- 
ings of his time up to the date of his majority. Such was 
the generally conceded and lawful duty of all minors as held 
at that time. Father took the money, but more from pru- 
dential than selfish motives, as he was not of an acquisitive 

During the following winter (1810-11) my brothers 
Elijah and Cyrus, were sent to Albany with father's teams 
to bring on goods for both Hart and Grosvenor. That trip 


led to the conception of the thought of making a business of 
that sort of enterprise, which he afterwards attempted to 
carry out. In the spring of 1811 Elijah bought a stock of 
goods from Eli Hart, for which father became responsible, 
and for which he afterwards paid. With this outfit my 
brother traveled and traded all along the south shore of 
Lake Erie as far west as the river Raisin, exchanging his 
goods with Indians and French half-breeds for furs, white- 
fish, fruits and whatever else that promised to be available 
on his return. He returned late in the next fall or early 
winter ; made with my brother Cyrus another trip to Albany 
during that winter, and in the spring of 1812, with another 
stock of goods bought of Abel M. Grosvenor, Sr., started 
in a schooner (name not known), 6 commanded by Capt. 
Chapin, and bound for Detroit. While the vessel was 
heading toward Maiden on her way to the mouth of the 
Detroit river, and near the entrance, she was captured, with 
all on board, by the Queen Charlotte, which had been hastily 
fitted out by the Canadians for war purposes. The men 
who were taken were kept in prison for three months, and 
then set at liberty on the Niagara frontier. Nothing was 
heard of my brother from the time that he started from 
Buffalo, except that the vessel was taken at Maiden, until he 
entered the door of the homestead on his return. Every- 
thing was taken from him except the summer suit which he 
wore not even a pocketknife was left him. 

When my brother left, the news of the declaration of war 
with England, June 17, 1812, had not reached the people of 
Buffalo, but by some means or route that fact had come to 
the knowledge of the Canadians sooner than it did to the 
people of this side of the river, and the Canadians, taking 
advantage of their earlier intelligence, made prisoners of all 
of our people who were on their "side of the line." 

Late in the spring of 1811, after having made the special 
trip mentioned above for the purpose of bringing on goods 

6. This was the schooner Cuyahoga Packet, of thirty tons burden, built at 
Chagrin River, O., in 1805; commanded by Captain Luther Chapin, and cap- 
tured by the British at Maiden in 1812. See Buf. Hist. Soc. Publications, Vol. 
VIII, p. 294- 


for Messrs. Hart and Grosvenor (individually, not part- 
ners), my father conceived the idea of becoming a common 
carrier as a business, and with that view entered into con- 
tracts with several of the merchants of Buffalo for the 
transportation of their goods from Albany or Utica, as the 
season permitted, going to Albany in the winter and only to 
Utica in the summer, as goods were then brought by open 
batteaux, poled up the Mohawk river, to that place. He be- 
gan that enterprise with two teams, one of three horses, be- 
fore what was then called a Pennsylvania wagon, and one 
of two horses before a common wagon. Not long after he 
added the third team of two horses, making in all, that sea- 
son, seven horses and three wagons. That was the begin- 
ning of through transportation by regular line from Albany 
to Buffalo. The last trip to Albany made by these teams 
was under the guidance of my two brothers, Elijah and 
Cyrus, in the winter of 1811-12. Within a year from the 
time that this enterprise was inaugurated it went out of his 
hands, and in consequence of the war measures that busi- 
ness, under other management, took on such enormous pro- 
portions that there were necessarily established extensive 
lines of transportation, involving the use of much more 
capital than he had at command. 

The teams which made up those future lines had in num- 
ber as many, in some instances, as sixteen horses to one 
wagon with a tire six or more inches wide. The reasons 
for these wide tires were that, as they were too wide for the 
ruts of the ordinary wagon, their tendency was to level the 
turnpike without cutting deep, and therefore were allowed 
to pass free of toll, an item not 'to be overlooked in their 
economy. That mode of common carrying in time assumed 
national importance, increasing with the settlement of the 
West, bringing and carrying between the East and West 
until it became, beyond a doubt, the evolving fact in the 
commerce of the State which led to the conception and con- 
struction of the New York and Erie Canal. 

Previous to and up to the time that my father's family 
came to Buffalo, the mails were carried principally on horse- 


back. They were sent and brought twice or three times 
each week, and their arrival was announced by the mail car- 
rier's horn. 7 

During the summer of 1812 nothing, or very little, was 
done by the United States Government in the way of 
prosecuting the war on this frontier, evidently knowing too 
little about its needs and conditions, and expecting the prin- 
cipal strife to be carried on on the ocean, or somewhere else 
than this locality. The Canadians, however, being more 
active, were not long in provoking a recognition of this, as 
the considerable field of their warfare. Yet nothing was 
done beyond the general trainings ordered by the State of 
New York in August or September and a draft of militia 
for defensive purposes. 

The battery (at first of one gun near this place) called 
Fort Adams, was put in place at or near Black Rock ferry, 
now foot of Niagara Street, and from there an irregular 
cannonading went on with the Canadian side (now Water- 
loo) 8 for the space of six weeks. Among the events which 
took place during that battery practice was an evidence of 
the skill of the late venerable Dr. Josiah Trowbridge, then 
an enterprising young man. He so sighted his gun that at 
the second discharge it knocked the ram-rod (a handspike) 
from the hands of a Canadian gunner across the river, and 
for a brief space dispersed their gunnery and quieted their 
gun. Not long after the query came across the river as to 
who handled our gun on that day. My brother Cyrus dug 
from the bank, just under or below our battery, a cannon 
ball fired by the Canadian battery. The late Henry Lovejoy 
helped my brother bring it home. It was, I think, an 
eighteen-pound shot. Slung with a handkerchief on a pole, 
and with one end of the stick on the shoulder of each, the 
boys brought it to town. After many years it disappeared 
in our first furnace, which was in Reese's blacksmith shop. 

7. On Buffalo's early mail service, see Buf. Hist. Soc. Publications, Vol. 
IV, pp. 311 et seq. The first mail received in Buffalo was brought, on horse- 
back, March, 1803. It was conveyed from the East in this manner, once in 
two weeks, until 1805. A weekly horseback service was then established, which 
continued until 1810, when it was surperseded by stage-wagon delivery. 

8. Fort Erie, Ont. 


Of the regiment formed in Buffalo and vicinity Dr. 
Cyrenius Chapin was made colonel, the father of the late 
William Miller was made major, William Hull a captain, 
Asael Atkins a lieutenant, and many of the active young 
men were called upon to fill the non-commissioned offices. 

Politics ran high in spirit, and personal animosities 
were fearful. The social and communal frenzy was beyond 
description ; all giving advice, and no one taking it ; no con- 
centration, no head, no effective purpose ; all were bad peo- 
ple but those who were criticising. If people attended to 
their own interests and were prosperous they were envious- 
ly denounced, and the source of their prosperity questioned. 
The opinions of the envious persons were, as usual, of no 
permanent value, except to tear down themselves and build 
up the envied. 

On October 3d of 1812 my sister, Aurelia St. John, was 
married to Asaph Stebbins Bemis by Judge Oliver Forward. 
On the 9th day of November following my brother, Cyrus 
Marsh St. John, after returning from a hunting expedition 
in company with Elijah, through the inclemency of the 
weather and the swampy nature of the country, contracted 
the disease then epidemical, commonly called the "camp dis- 
temper," and died after six days' sickness. That disease 
was evidently, from its description, inflammation of the 
larynx and bronchia, in some instances involving the ton- 
sils, and in many respects answering in symptoms to the dis- 
ease known now as "diphtheria." Soon after this event, on 
returning home from the funeral, father was> taken down 
with the same disease ; but in consequence of the persistent 
efforts of Mr. LeCouteulx, who was by profession a drug- 
gist, with his French apparatus for steaming the throat 
with herb teas, it is believed by the family the disease was 
overcome. The apparatus above mentioned was a small 
pot with a long flexible tube, on the end of which was an 
ivory mouthpiece. The ivory end was inserted back into the 
fauces as far as possible, and respiration, at least the inhal- 
ation, was conducted through it. That brought on an active 
secretion and suppuration, and with it relief. Dr. Eben- 


ezer Johnson, the attending physician, thought this case one 
of quinsy or "tonsilitis." Other members of the family were 
sick with the same disease, with various symptoms and de- 
grees of violence, but in time all recovered. 

During the sickness of the family, or soon after that date, 
my sister, Aurelia Bemis, and her husband rented the back 
room of Mr. Forward's house, at the solicitation of Mr. and 
Mrs. Forward, as they said, "to keep soldiers from quarter- 
ing there." The building had two rooms on the first floor 
and a chamber, Mr. and Mrs. Forward occupying the front 
room, Mr. and Mrs. Bemis the back room; the chamber 
being used as the postoffice. The dimensions of that build- 
ing cannot now be defined. The street door of the building 
opened into the room occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Forward, 
there being no hall. The entrance to the back room was by 
a side door, and the way to the postoffice was by a flight of 
steps up and across the front of the building. 

In consequence of the family sickness spoken of above, 
my father took down the sign of the house as a hotel, and 
Mr. and Mrs. Bemis returned there to live. 

After the six weeks' cannonading between Fort Adams 
and the Canadian side of the Niagara river, and while Gen- 
eral Smyth with forces under him were lying here, the naval 
officers came, say in November, 1812. Being young, am- 
bitious, restless, anxious for active service, they solicited 
from the officer in command the privilege of attempting to 
spike the British guns. General Smyth gave the order ; the 
attack was made, the cannon spiked, the return a success ; 
but with what casualties to our men, if any, is not recol- 
lected. In the latter part of the winter General Smyth was 
relieved by Col. Preston. 

The next event of any moment during the winter of 
1812-13 was the military ball held in the public house of 
Mr. Joseph Landon, 9 given by the officers stationed in this 
vicinity in honor of Governor Lewis on the occasion of his 
visit to Buffalo. Of course Governor Lewis was a Demo- 

9. On present Exchange Street, south side, between Main and Washington 
streets. Site now covered by the east end of the Mansion House. 


crat. He had been elected as a war Democrat. My father, 
being an ultra-Democrat, very readily affiliated with him, 
and was present at the ball, though not yet in the best of 
health, accompanied by my sisters, Maria and Sarah. The 
Governor danced but once that evening, and that with my 
sister Maria St. John as a partner. 

In the spring of 1813 the schooners John Adams and 
Niagara 10 were cut out from the Canadian shore by a private 
party, but I cannot say who, without any particular order 
or command, and were brought back to this side of the river 
and moored or anchored in the stream just above Squaw 
Island. Those two vessels were lying there, say in May, 
1813; the Adams certainly in June. During the winter all 
of the naval stores had been moved to Erie as p a better base 
of naval operations. During the spring of 1813 Colonel 
Preston made his preparations for attacking Fort Erie. 

By that time my father's health was so far recovered that 
he was able to ride down to Black Rock nearly every day, 
and it was understood by the family that he was in general 
consultation respecting the feasibility of measures 1 to be 
taken by and with Col. Preston. 

The Democrats, being in the minority in the township of 
Buffalo, were the subjects of a vast deal of uncharitable 
vituperation, but were none the less a unit in all that per- 
tained to war measures. General Smyth was a Federalist, 
Colonel Preston a Democrat, and as such inspired his party 
friends with a hope that something would be done worthy of 
the country. 

When everything was in readiness the army was ordered 1 , 
to cross the river. Previous to the order being given to 
cross there was an understanding between Col. Preston and 
Col. Chrystie, stationed at Fort Niagara, that on a given 
day, in the morning early enough to be on the Canadian 
shore by daylight, there should be a simultaneous move- 
ment on Fort Erie and Fort George, and it was further 
arranged that in the event of either army succeeding a 

10. So written, but should be "schooners Adams and Caledonia." For 
account of this episode, see Buf. Hist. Soc. Publications, Vol. VIII, pp. 405-417. 


messenger should be at once dispatched to the other. As 
Col. Preston's force was to cross below Fort Erie, and that 
under Col. Chrystie was to cross, I think, above Fort 
George, while forces from the fleet were landed below, the 
messengers were expected to reach their destination without 
much difficulty, particularly as they were to be prepared 
with the proper means or signs by which they should know 
each other, and be recognized as proper and reliable per- 
sons by the officers in command. 

On the morning of the crossing of the armies, May 27, 
1813, my father took an early breakfast and left home for 
the scene of action at Black Rock, saying to the family that 
he would go down and see how Col. Preston had succeeded 
in crossing, and that he would be back in due season, evi- 
dently intending to quiet my mother's anxieties about his 
health being such as to warrant his crossing the river. As 
he did not return as was expected a messenger was sent to 
inquire and learn of his whereabouts, who, on returning, in- 
formed the family that his horse was in the stable at Black 
Rock, and that himself was seen on one of the last boats 
going over the river. 

He went directly up to Fort Erie (as he afterwards nar- 
rated), which had by that time been possessed by the forces 
under Col. Preston, who was looking anxiously for some 
one acquainted with the country to be a bearer of dispatches 
to Col. Chrystie. My father volunteered to go. As a pru- 
dential measure, he was dressed in a British sergeant's uni- 
form, and carried as a provision against emergencies a flag 
of truce. His acquaintance with the country and people on 
the Canadian side, many of whom were friendly to the 
United States, enabled him to know where and to whom to 
apply for a fresh horse and food, which he was supplied 
with at the distance of about twelve miles below Fort Erie. 
He rode the distance as soon as a proper prudence would 
admit, and reached Fort George late in the afternoon at 
about the same time, or very soon after, our troops took 
possession of it, which they were enabled to do after much 
harder fighting than at Fort Erie. 


As my father entered Fort George, Col. Chrystie was 
casting about for some one to be the bearer of dispatches to 
Col. Preston. The dispatches, borne by him from Col. Pres- 
ton, gave to Col. Chrystie the desired information respect- 
ing the situation of affairs at Fort Erie. After taking a 
soldier's supper he was mounted on a fresh horse and 
started back as bearer of dispatches from Col. Chrystie to 
Col. Preston in Fort Erie. He accomplished his task that 
night, having made a journey, not without perils, of 
seventy-nine miles in less than twenty-four hours. 

At his time in life, and his health considered, that effort 
was one of great fatigue. He rested and slept a part of the 
second day. When he arose from his sleep Col. Preston 
met him, saluted him, thanked him for his services, and 
tendered him a certificate setting forth that his services were 
of great value and worthy of consideration and reward by 
the Government, at the same time intimating that he would 
reward him in any other way that he would name. Father's 
answer was that he was serving his country, and as he had 
previously pledged his services to the country in various 
ways, he was too well paid by the happiness which he ex- 
perienced, as he rejoiced in the successes of the day. His 
first impulse was that he did not think the certificate neces- 
sary, but as Col. Preston insisted on his taking it, saying 
that my father could not say when or where it might be of 
service to him, he did take it, and witnesses are living who 
read it. When the village was burned it was destroyed by 
the Indians, together with all of his valuable papers. 

Col. Preston suggested to him that he would do well to 
take from the spoils some memorials of the events of the 
day. On looking about among the effects of the British 
officers there were found many elegant things, particularly 
in the line of clothing. It was finally decided that he should 
take an undress suit of exquisite material, which by trial 
was found to fit him. That suit was afterwards much ad- 
mired and coveted by many of the young American officers. 
The family knew nothing of his doings from the time that 
he was seen on the boat crossing the river until his return. 


Not long after his return, say three or four days, Col. 
Preston sent a special messenger requesting him to come 
over to Fort Erie. On going over to Fort Erie he learned 
that Col. Preston wanted to know where the ferry boats 
were. After much counciling as to the ways and means by 
which the military supplies for the army could be got across 
the river, he was requested by Col. Preston to go and hunt 
up the ferry boat and see that it was made available for that 
purpose. He engaged to do so. On coming back to this 
side of the river he found that a Mr. Dean had some special 
grants from the State authorities giving him control over 
the ferry, but that in consequence of the war he had, for a 
time at least, abandoned his rights, and had taken his boat 
down to Scajaquada creek and sunk it. Father went down 
to the creek, and calling on Mr. Benjamin Bidwell, a 
young man then living near that creek, engaged him as a 
ship carpenter to help in repairing the boat in the event of 
its being found. It was found deep in the mud and serious- 
ly broken, but the bottom was found to be sound. It was 
pried up, and with much difficulty got in shape to be re- 
paired. Mr. Bidwell was the chief worker in making the 
necessary repairs, in which he was more or less assisted in 
various ways by others, among whom was my brother 

In the meantime Col. Preston was urging that the work 
be expedited, and that father should take charge of it when 
done. That he refused to do, beyond getting the boat 
ready and sending it over to the Canadian shore. He had 
talked with brother Elijah, advising him to take charge of 
the boat in preference to his going on another trading ex- 
pedition up the lake, as he was desirous of doing. 

By dint of severe effort the boat was by Saturday night 
of June 5, 1813, thought to be fit for service, and the next 
day, Sunday, June 6th, everything, as far as it could be, 
was in readiness for delivery. 

Elijah remained down where the boat was, but father re- 
turned home Saturday evening. He left again very early 
Sunday morning. After making a call for volunteers to 


help take the boat over, and getting his men together, they 
were by nine o'clock a. m. under motion. There were in 
all nine persons on board. 

Of the number of men so engaged there were five soldiers, 
wishing and waiting to go over ; a Mr. George Lester, a 
tanner by trade from Cold Springs, who had a horse with 
him, and a young lad from up in the country, who after- 
wards proved to be Mr. Lester Brace, who had asked as a 
privilege to be allowed to go over in the boat. My brother 
Elijah acted as steersman and father directed the whole. 

The boat was headed up the stream, until they had 
reached a point where, as Elijah thought, they were high 
enough, to pass the cable of the schooner John Adams, then, 
as before mentioned, lying there at anchor. Elijah repeat- 
edly suggested that they were high enough up, but father, 
more cautious, advised going still farther up the stream, 
until they should reach a less doubtful point. They went 
farther up. When they did strike out to cross the river, they 
soon found that by reason of the inexperience of the men, of 
their want of skill in handling the boat in a rapid current 
of which they had little or no knowledge, they were making 
no encouraging progress toward Canada, but were floating 
directly down upon the cable of the John Adams, which had 
been their special reason for caution. In spite of their 
efforts to avoid it, they struck the dreaded cable, up which 
the scow made a rapid slide, turning completely over, and 
bottom side up, floated away down the river. In an instant 
all were in the water. The sailors on board the schooner 
threw ropes to those who were within their reach and drew 
them on board. The citizens, as soon as< possible, started 
out in row-boats to their rescue, but passed by Elijah, who 
was so close to the shore that they thought that he would 
be able to save himself. Why he did not reach the shore 
was a matter of much speculation in opinion afterwards, as 
he was known to be a good swimmer. When picked up, 
there was a mark on his forehead indicative of some injury, 
probably received when the scow capsized, causing him to 
become faint, or otherwise exhausted, if not unconscious. 


They succeeded in saving two soldiers and two citizens. 
The soldiers' names are not known; but the two citizens 
were Mr. George Lester of Cold Springs and Mr. Lester 

There were three soldiers, names not known, who were 
drowned, their bodies being afterwards picked up below the 
falls, and two citizens. The citizens were my father and my 
brother Elijah. The horse of Mr. George Lester of Cold 
Springs swam to the shore and was recovered. 

In two or three days, or as soon as Mr. George Lester 
could find himself sufficiently recovered to call on our family, 
he came into town from Cold Springs and gave us the de- 
tails of what had occurred. 

While in the water, my father and Mr. George Lester 
were assisted by the buoyancy of a rail which they had joint 
possession of and which they hoped would be the means of 
keeping themselves above water, until help could reach 
them ; but they soon realized that it was not sufficient for 
the two, and that one or the other must relinquish it. They 
discussed the chances of being saved, and, on Mr. George 
Lester saying that he could not swim, father let go of the 
rail and caught a piece of board which proved of no assist- 
ance, and he was lost. The body of Elijah was found on 
the ninth day after the accident, the I5th of June, 1813, 
close in shore, among some bushes not far below where he 
was last seen swimming; and was brought to Buffalo by 
Asaph S. Bemis. The body of my father was found on the 
fifteenth day after the accident, or the 2ist of June, half 
way down to where Tonawanda now is. It was discovered 
by Mr. E. D. Efner and his partner, Mr. Sackett. These 
gentlemen had the body secured, through the help of some 
one living on the bank of the river, and then returned to 
Buffalo, giving up their mission to Tonawanda, where they 
were going on business. On their informing the family of 
these facts, Mr. Asaph S. Bemis went down to the place 
where the body was secured, and brought it to Buffalo. 

Those events threw the family into a deepest gloom and 
despondency. The future before our mother, and the older 


members of the family, can be better imagined than des- 
cribed. The chapter of their misfortunes was not yet ended ; 
their salvation from wreck was fortitude. The family re- 
maining was composed of our mother and nine children 
six daughters and three sons; the respective ages of the 
three sons were eight, six and three years. 

Our family were in the large house and the sign had pre- 
viously been taken down. It was now evident that they 
could not conduct the house as a public house, and there- 
fore arrangements were soon after made to lease it to Mr. 
Moseley Abell, afterwards a resident of Fredonia. Our 
mother administered upon the estate of Gamaliel St. John, 
deceased, sold personal property, paid debts and struggled 
on in an unsystematic way generally and at great disad- 

Immediately after the lease was made with Mr. Abell 
she went out to Clarence, where Mr. Otis R. Hopkins lived, 
and bargained for the house and lot (54) adjoining on the 
north side of the old homestead, or large house so rented to 
Mr. Abell, and the family moved into that house so pur- 
chased from Mr. Hopkins, where they lived when the vil- 
lage was burned. 

Col. Preston's stay at Fort Erie was of short duration. 
In less than one month he, with his command, was ordered 
to another field where the demand was more urgent, there 
being no promise of any further or immediate necessity for 
troops in this vicinity. The removal of the forces under 
Col. Preston to a point somewhere on the frontier east of 
this, left Buffalo and its vicinity unprotected except by the 
militia. The people were in a feverish state of excitement ; 
everything was in an unsettled and unstable condition ; the 
timid, uncertain of their position, were devising plans of 
safety for their family, moving and counter-moving, and at 
last doing that which, as often as otherwise, proved to be 
unsafe and void of good judgment. 

In the midst of this confused state of things our mother, 
like all true mothers, was ready to jeopardize her life for 
the future interests of her family. The large house, as be- 


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fore stated, had been rented and the first quarter of the 
year's rent had been paid in advance. With this small cap- 
ital the family took possession of the new purchase. It was 
a small, one-and-a-half story building, unfinished, being only 
enclosed, or the frame covered, and the floors laid, but stand- 
ing on the walls of a good cellar. In dimensions on the 
ground it was 22 feet on the front, running not more than 
20 or 22 feet back ; possibly 22 feet square. It stood quite 
by itself on the west side of Main Street, in an open space, 
without fence or shrub about it, and back from the line of 
the street 25 feet. 

Into that unfinished building the family stowed them- 
selves away as best they could with a work-bench on the 
lower floor and the joiners working with all due diligence to 
get it in shape for their greater comfort. When finished 
the house was constructed with a four-paneled street door 
in the center of the front of the building, with a fifteen- 
light window of 7x9 glass on each side of the door and two 
windows above of twelve lights, each 7x9 glass, in line with 
the two below. A chimney and fireplace stood at the center 
of the west end of the building in line with and facing the 
street door. The street door opened without any hall or 
porch directly into the main room. On the right as one en- 
tered from the street was a bed room in the northeast cor- 
ner half the length of the house, say seven by ten feet ; fur- 
ther on, and adjoining this room and to the right of the 
chimney in the northwest corner of the building was a room 
of the same size, used as a stairway to get into the chamber 
and as a passageway out of the back door, and in which a 
scant place was appropriated for a small single bed. On the 
left of the chimney in the southwest corner was a cupboard 
for dishes and what was requisite for the tables and cooking. 
The chamber was divided into two rooms, the smaller bed- 
room being on the south side and running the whole length 
of the house, say 7x20 or 22 feet, with a window, twelve 
lights of 7x9 glass, in the west end ; there was also a win- 
dow, twelve lights 7x9, at the head of the stairs in the west 


end of the main room and on the north side of the chimney. 
The eaves-troughs were worked out of a whitewood or cu- 
cumber tree and each was of one solid piece. 

On Oct. 13, 1813, the people were suddenly called upon 
to give quarters to the troops drafted or called from the 
militia to defend the frontier. In the summer or fall of 1813 
some of our people of Buffalo, not properly organized or 
connected with the army or Government, went over to Can- 
ada under the guidance of Col. Chapin, and were engaged 
in a work and various enterprises with which I am not con- 
versant as to character, but about which there were many 
severe criticisms and caustic censures. While they were 
over there they were made prisoners and soon after the 
much-vaunted "retaking of themselves" took place. 

The burning of Queenstown and Newark (Niagara, 
Ont), was a measure that our mother, in common witft 
others, boldly denounced as an exhibition of wantonness 
only fit for savages ; and in all of her conversations, accused 
the perpetrators of that act of exhibiting a bravado that only 
belonged to cowardice and motives as mercenary as the cow- 
boys of the Revolution. She was wont to quote the biblical 
maxim, "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." 
They sowed the wind, and in due time we reaped the whirl- 

The people of Buffalo were kept in a state of unrest by 
the nightly firing of cannon and other alarms to keep the 
people vigilant and to let the enemy, if any in hearing, know 
that our defenders were around. 

This state of things went on with various minor events 
until the morning of the 3Oth day of December, 1813. The 
British had crossed the Niagara during the night before and 
that morning appeared in sight on the Black Rock road, now 
Niagara Street. The Canadian Indians were coming 
through the woods from Black Rock, scattered as far north 
as the Guideboard road, now North Street, and were driv- 
ing and killing our scattered people wherever they overtook 
them. Among the citizens killed were Mr. Roop, the father 


of the late Henry Roop, and "Sammy" Helms. The stalwart 
Seth Grosvenor and his friends, with the only gun at com- 
mand, had stationed themselves at or near the junction of 
Main and Niagara streets and were doing such good service 
with it as the British were coming up Niagara Street as to 
bring them to a halt. While they were so engaged, Colonel 
Cyrenius Chapin appeared with a flag of truce and ordered 
the men to cease firing. Grosvenor told him to "go about 
his views if he liked, they intended to fire the cannon." 
Grosvenor and friends were so encouraged by their success 
that their ambition and zeal got the better of their judgment ; 
they so overloaded the gun that it reacted with such violence 
as to become dismounted. 

Grosvenor started for help to assist him in putting the 
cannon back on the carriage, and came to our house with the 
hope of finding someone for that purpose. Not finding 
any one there, stout-hearted as he was, he could not suppress 
his tears as he said to my mother, "If I had help to put that 
cannon up again I could drive the British back." 

In the meantime Chapin went forward with his flag of 
truce and capitulated for the saving of many of the houses, 
his own included, from the torch of conflagration, while the 
rest were burned. Neither of our houses were mentioned 
in the capitulation, and the large house was fired that day, 
but the flames were extinguished by Sarah, afterwards Mrs. 
Wilkeson, drawing water, and mother, Maria and the hired 
man carrying and throwing it on the fire. The next (third) 
day, or before the British finally left, they burned it. The 
small house was neither included in the capitulation nor 

The people of the town had been forewarned of the ap- 
proach of the enemy and as a general thing had fled. The 
British and their Indians left on the 3ist of December, but 
the Indians under the immediate direction of Lieut. William 
Carr, an under-officer, and a half-breed, returned the third 
day and burned the large house, as he said, under peremp- 
tory orders. 


Here ends the narrative of Mrs. Parnell Sidway. I was called 
away to Ohio, and never found it convenient to have another inter- 
view with her upon the subject. In December, 1876, I wrote to my 
sister, Martha St. John, now Mrs. Skinner, to send me her recollec- 
tions ; and in due time I received from her the following letter. 








There were in Buffalo just before the burning, from 
2,000 to 4,000 drafted and volunteer militia ; they were en- 
camped nearly in front of the old courthouse, and when 
ordered to march to Black Rock for the purpose of prevent- 
ing the British from crossing, they went, I think, down 
Eagle Street, or possibly Court. 

The house which mother bought from Otis R. Hopkins 
was only covered, but had the windows in, as it had been 
occupied by Mr. John Root and his wife Crissy (Christina), 
and also by Alva Sharpe and family. Sharpe's daughter 

Matilda was afterwards Mrs. Dickinson. When our 

family moved into that small house, which was 22 feet front 
and running back not more than that, to make it more com- 
fortable, as the winter was a very cold one, mother, assisted 
by the children, hung the inside of the house, next to the 
walls, with blankets and quilts. As I said, such a great 
number of troops had marched to Black Rock that the people 
felt safe. Mrs. Pomeroy and her daughter Minerva, after- 
wards Mrs. Champlain, and Mrs. Abell, wife of Moseley 

i. This letter is dated "Clarence Place, Dorchester, near Boston, Mass., 
Dec. 22, 1876." Like the reminiscences of Mrs. Skinner's sister, Mrs. Sidway, 
in preceding pages, it was written at the request of Dr. Orson S. St. John for 
the Buffalo Historical Society, and is now first published. A brief portion of 
no historical interest is omitted. 


Abell, and three children, were sitting up at our house listen- 
ing to hear the guns at Black Rock, supposing we were 
safe, when suddenly the alarm gun boomed up with such an 
awful burst of thunder as aroused everybody, and people 
were soon flying every way for safety. We were soon pre- 
pared for a start, and Mr. Bemis, whose house was opposite 
ours on the east side of Main Street, was able with his 
wagon and horses to carry his family and part of ours, so 
we were all packed in, three girls and three boys, with beds, 
blankets and clothing, leaving mother, Maria and Sarah at 
the house. He drove out Main Street until he came to North 
Street. There we met our Seneca Indians retreating and 
the Canadian Indians pursuing and firing on them. The 
bullets came whistling by us and Mr. Bemis, not liking this 
music, turned his course and drove back, and said to my 
mother as we were flying past, that he would be compelled 
to go the other road on the lake shore, but would return as 
soon as possible and take away the remainder of the family. 

But as we passed the head of Niagara Street, which was 
the place of the alarm gun, we looked down the road and 
saw the British army arrayed on Niagara Square, and a 
person on horseback facing them holding a white flag over 
his shoulder. The gun had been fired by the command of 
Seth Grosvenor when, too heavily loaded, it dismounted, 
and he said he could not gather together enough to help to 
set it back. 

When we arrived at Pratt's ferry, one mile up the creek, 
we were compelled to wait our turn to cross. The ice was 
not thick enough to drive over, although people could walk 
across. After crossing we drove up the lake shore. The 
people came flying by us, some one way, some another. 
There was Mrs. Atkins, who had fallen off the horse into 
the quicksand with her baby. We came to Mr. Barker's 
tavern, 4 eight miles from Buffalo. Mrs. Barker was very 
sick and died the loth of January. We pursued our journey 
on toward Willink, for as we were waiting for our way over 
the creek we saw the smoke of the burning village coming 
over the trees, so we knew it would be of no use to return. 


It was past 12 o'clock noonday when we left Mr. Barker's 
and we found snow and night coming on. We had a heavy 
load of household goods and Mr. Bemis and his wife and 
their child, a baby. My sister Margaret (Mrs. Foot), my 
sister Parnell (Mrs. Sidway now), and myself (Mrs. Mar- 
tha St. John Skinner now) ; my brother, John Ransom St. 
John of Lockport, and brother Le Grand Canun St. John, 
and Orson Swift St. John : the youngest child in mother's 
family, three years old. 

Now to our journey from Barker's to Willink. The way 
was long and the night cold. When we were about three 
miles from the tavern at Willink, something in the road, I 
believe a very steep place, the horses pulling hard caused 
something about the wagon to break and we were all com- 
pelled to get out of the wagon. So we three sisters walked 
along ahead, leaving the rest of the party with the wagon ; 
but the snow was deep and the road was strange and we 
could hear nothing of our friends we had left behind us. 
Two or three roads came together at one place. We were 
unable to determine which road to take. Soon I heard a 
loud roaring in the woods, and I looked and saw a ball of 
fire coming, as I thought, from Buffalo, which might be 
some of the fire from the burning houses blown over the 
tops~of the trees. We stood still till that passed ; then an- 
other, then another, which were like meteors, throwing off 
fire. We then pursued our course, taking the road over 
which the meteors flew. 

After daylight we arrived at a log tavern. I do not re- 
member the name of the people who lived there. We went 
into the first room we could, and that was a large room with 
a large log fire. We were nearly benumbed with the cold, 
and when we approached the fire I saw Mrs. Sophia Pratt, 
wife of Mr. Samuel Pratt and mother of Mr. Samuel F. 
Pratt, late of Buffalo. She was sitting in one corner watch- 
ing some cooking going on for breakfast. She reached out 
her hand and took my hand and drew me to her and placed 
me between herself and the fire, keeping my hands against 
her head and face to drive out the pain from my fingers and 


saying kind words and comforting us all she could. I often 
think of her and think what a dear good woman she was. 

We were getting quite comfortable; she was preparing 
for breakfast with baking bread, frying meat, and the most 
savory smell of sausage. Presently there came in, all nearly 
frozen, Mr. and Mrs. Bemis and baby and our three little 
brothers, John R. St. John, Le Grand C. St. John and Orson 
S. St. John ; they had all come on horseback. They had left 
the wagon, load and all and taken the horses, Mrs. Bemis on 
one horse with her baby in her arms, and one of the little 
boys on the back or behind her on the horse. Mr. Bemis 
took the other horse with one little boy in his arms and the 
other behind him. They arrived all safe, but very cold. 

As soon as she could get warm enough, Mrs. Bemis com- 
menced her preparations for breakfast, making a large 
boiler full of chocolate and all that could be gathered to- 
gether for a comfortable meal. Mr. Samuel F. Pratt told 
me, one time when I met him at a party at Mrs. Sidway's, 
that she, his mother, had her bread ready to bake, and rind- 
ing she could not bake it in Buffalo she put it in a pillow- 
case and carried it to Willink to bake. 

I think Mr. Bemis procured a sleigh to proceed on with. 
We left the house full of people, many of whom went no 
further. I saw two of Dr. Cyrenius Chapin's daughters who 
the Buffalo Gazette said walked all of the way from Buffalo. 

Now we will proceed on our journey through Hamburg 
and Boston, over hills so high that it seemed as if we were 
going into the clouds. We arrived at Warsaw, which was 
in a valley, a pretty place, with a long bridge. We stayed 
there, or not far from there, until Mr. Bemis could return to 
Buffalo, as we knew nothing of the fate of those we had left 
at Buffalo. 

I cannot say that Mr. Bemis came back for us ; I think it 
was the hired man, with horses and sleigh, that came and 
carried us all back. We learned who were alive and that 
our small house was not burned. We returned through the 
Indian village and stopped at Cornplanters to warm us. 
The sun was setting as we drove over that beautiful prairie 


ground. The squaws were carrying bundles of sticks to 
their wigwams or huts. We came into Buffalo in time to 
see the chimneys standing. All seemed gloomy and desolate. 

We soon came in sight of our own home. The cellar 
walls were standing and the chimney on the north side of 
the t hall and the one on the south side of the hall were stand- 
ing. The large stone step on Main Street was firm in its 
place against the front wall. 

How sad was the change since we had seen it last ! Tears 
were nothing now ; everybody had been weeping for days. 
While we were waiting at the ferry, in our flight from Buf- 
falo, I heard a loud groan and saw people looking up at the 
tops of the trees. I turned my eyes and saw those awful 
clouds of smoke rolling over and over and the women 
shrieking and sobbing and all could avail them naught, for 
the destruction was commenced. 

Therefore, when we met our mother we tried to be thank- 
ful for the small house, knowing our former home was lost 
with nearly all the proceeds of a father's life, "whose con- 
stant care was to increase his store." 

In the recital concerning the morning after we had left 
Buffalo, my sister Sarah said, mother was standing in the 
door and Mr. Seth Grosvenor came along with a white flag 
on a walking-stick. He said if he could only gather citizens 
enough to assist him he could drive the enemy back ; as he 
had sent the contents of that gun among them with the effect 
of mowing them down. 

Just then some few men on horseback were coming from 
Court Street, and as they came nearer mother walked out to 
the road. The headmost one drew his rein, and she said to 

"For mercy's sake, do turn back and help Mr. Grosvenor 
manage that cannon and defend the town; and let General 
Hall go ; he must be an awful coward." 

At that he raised his hat, drew rein and his horse set off 
on a dignified trot, and the rest followed. Mother was soon 
informed that she had been talking to General Hall himself. 


She said she did not wish to recall her words, that if she 
had known him she would have said more. 

My mother said she saw an Indian pulling the curtains 
down from the window of the Love joy house opposite, and 
saw Mrs. Love joy strike his hand with a carving-knife, and 
saw the Indian raise the hatchet ; but as the door closed she 
could not know certain that he killed her. She did not dare 
to go and see. 

Soon there came along an advance guard with a cannon, 
and a British colonel on horseback. He spoke very cross, 
and said, "Why are you not away?" 

Mother said she had lost the opportunity and now she 
had nowhere to go to, only out in the cold and perish in the 
snow. He said, "I have just now seen a very unpleasant 
sight in the house over the way. The Indians have killed 
a woman and I am very sorry any such thing should hap- 

"Well," said mother, "I was fearful she would provoke 
them to kill her. I spoke to her, and said, 'Do not risk your 
life for property' ; she answered, 'When my property goes, 
my life shall go with it'." 

My mother asked the colonel to set a sentinel by the large 
house and the one she was in to prevent the Indians from 
coming in and burning the two houses. He said he had no 
such command; that she must go to Gen. Riall; he could 
say what might be done. The colonel then moved along 
with his party and cannon. 

The squaws were in the house plundering when she re- 
turned, and very soon there came in a little dwarf and spoke 
very lively to my mother and said, "Do not be frightened, 
madam, you need not fear; there was an order issued this 
morning from the Canadian officer that no person should be 
molested who was obliged to stay from sickness or old age 
or any accident or misfortune." 

My mother said, "Where is your commanding officer?" 

Just down here in a log house on the Niagara road." 
This was at the Edsall tannery, near the junction of Mo- 
hawk, Niagara and Morgan streets. So, as a squaw had 


taken off mother's veil and bonnet and also her cloak and 
had put her own squaw blanket about mother's shoulders, 
and had served Sarah with the same change of dress, they 
and Maria and the dwarf set off together, he having in- 
formed my mother that he could speak six different lan- 
guages and was the interpreter for General Riall. They 
took their course down to the corner of Delaware and Ni- 
agara streets, that is, Niagara Square, and were ushered 
into the presence of the Indian commander by the dwarf in- 
terpreter. The bluff old man said : 

"What do you require?" 

Mother replied, "I came to ask you to send a guard to 
keep the Indians from burning my house and from plunder- 
ing our goods and clothing." 

He spoke a few words to the guide, and they retraced 
their steps back to their home. The interpreter took his 
seat by the door. Being winter, the door was closed and the 
Indians would bang their guns against it. When the door 
was opened, the interpreter would speak and they would go 
away, looking as if they had met with a severe reproof. 

In the course of the day the house of Mrs. Lovejoy was 
set on fire and mother and sisters Maria and Sarah, with 
the hired man, old Mr. Pettingill, and others, went to the 
house and took the body of Mrs. Lovejoy out and laid it on 
a pile of boards by the side of the fence, so it would not be 
consumed by the fire. Then they went into the house and 
saw it did not burn fast, so they made an attempt to put out 
the fire and did succeed; and when night was coming on 
they thought they would carry the body in again, and as the 
old man was very weak and feeble they needed more help. 
They looked up the street and saw Mr. Walden. So sister 
Sarah started on a run to ask him to come and assist. He 
came, and with mother, Maria and Sarah lifted her and car- 
ried her in and laid her on the cords of a bedstead. 

Let me interrupt my recollections for a moment. I re- 
cently received a number of the Sandusky (O.) Clarion, 
containing an account of her appearance, by a gentleman liv- 
ing in Ohio, near Sandusky. He said he was a boy at the 


time that Buffalo was burned and was living about a half 
mile from Buffalo towards Black Rock ; that his father took 
his gun and went to the battle ; that he and his mother pre- 
pared breakfast, but before they could eat his father re- 
turned and said they had no time to lose, the British were 
just behind them; so they dashed out and followed with 
the crowd and came up to where they were loading the gun, 
ready for resistance, but they did not dare to stop. They 
followed the crowd up the creek, but they did not cross the 
creek, staying about and sleeping that night in a barn. The 
next morning they returned to the village and went to Mrs. 
St. John's (my mother's) and got some breakfast, and they 
then went over to see Mrs. Lovejoy. She was lying on the 
bedstead ; she was a tall woman, was dressed in a black silk 
dress, with her long black hair hanging down or reaching 
through the cords and lying on the floor. He said they all 
stood about her and shed tears. 

Then the Indians came again the third day and set the 
house on fire and she was burned in it, and Mr. Lovejoy 
came and gathered her bones in a handkerchief and buried 

Our large house had been set on fire, and Sarah drew 
water from the well and mother, Maria and the old hired 
man carried it and poured it on the fire until it was out. 
Then there was a sentinel set to guard it, but after the bugle 
horn blew for retreat, the third day, there came back an In- 
dian on horseback with a waiter on another horse. The 
officer dismounted and gave his rein to his waiter and went 
into the house and began to gather some combustible ma- 
terial, such as papers and straw and the clock case, from 
which a squaw had taken the works. This he split up, and 
blew one pistol into it, and set fire to it. My mother had 
just arrived and attempted to put out the fire. At that the 
Indian, who spoke English, told her she must go to her 
house, for he intended to burn that one. 

She said she would have no income if that was destroyed, 
"and I am a widow and I have also lost my sons." 


He said : "Very likely that may be true, but we have left 
you one roof, and that is more than the Americans left for 
our widows when they came over ; they only left the brands 
of the houses after they were burned." 

He then drew another pistol, and pointed it at her and 
said if she wished to save her life she must leave and return 
to her house they had left for her. 

My mother said: "I do not intend to risk my life for 
property, but this is my home. I took the other to have the 
income from this." 

He said, "Very probable ; but this would be a rendezvous 
for four thousand troops be'fore tomorrow night." This 
was the last day. The barn was burned on the first day. 

On the first day some of the British ordered the old hired 
man to burn the barn. The old man came in wiping his eyes. 
Mother said, "What is the matter?" He answered, "I must 
do what I never did expect to do. They say I must burn 
your barn. See, they have taken the woollen mittens you 
gave me and made me take these old, wornout buckskin 
gauntlets." Mother said, "Oh, well, it cannot be helped; 
you had better obey their orders." So he took the brand of 
fire from the hearth and went and set the barn on fire. 

This was on the first morning and at the same time that 
they set fire to the large house ; but Sarah drew the water 
and Maria and mother and the old man poured it on the 
fire and put it out. The day that intervened between the 
burning of the barn and the final burning of the house was 
New Year's day, the morning of which the boy and his 
mother came to get their breakfast and visited the house of 
Mrs. Love joy. She laid in her house that New Year's day 
and that night and was burned in her house on the next day, 
being the second day of January. 

Many of the houses were standing on New Year's day ; 
our own large house was not burned until the last day of 
the burning and all had been burned but ours. When the 
bugle horn blew the sentinels were removed and all had left, 
when the Indian, Carr, a half-breed who married Brant's 
daughter, returned, resolved to burn it. 


This being the second day of January, it had been hoped 
that those houses would be saved ; but while at breakfast the 
old man came in and said: "I think I have heard the Indi- 
ans' whoop down towards Black Rock." They rose up, my 
mother took the tablecloth for a flag and waved it out of a 
window, the west chamber window at the head of the stairs ; 
and seeing an Indian running by the house she looked to see 
where he was going, and saw Sarah running towards Mo- 
hawk Street. The old hired man was trying to run, too, but 
he stumbled and the Indian helped to lift him up and took 
some vermilion and painted his face. So, seeing that, Sarah 
turned back and shook hands with the Indian, and he painted 
her face. She returned to the house. 

Then there came along the British officer on horseback 
and stopped near the house and said, "Why did you not go 
away?" Mother told him she had nowhere to go. He said 
he had just seen a sad sight in that house over the way, and 
mother said she thought Mrs. Lovejoy had provoked the 

When the officer saw the paint on Sarah's face he asked 
how that came to be so. She told how she attempted to run 
away on seeing the Indian that morning, but as she saw he 
was not disposed to murder the old hired man, she turned 
back and was painted, too. The officer looked very angry 
about it and told her to go and wash it off. She said if the 
Indian should see her again she was afraid he would be dis- 
pleased. He said he would insure her safety. She then 
went and washed her face. 

The officer rode along and the Indians commenced burn- 
ing the houses again. Burning Mr. Lovejoy's and Mr. 
Bemis's house over the way, opposite ours, and all were 
burned and the sentinels removed. After all was quiet that 
Indian, Carr, returned and burned the large house, saying 
if left it would be a rendezvous for four thousand men be- 
fore the next night. 

In a few days we returned and all our neighbors came 
into town and the mothers from Bloomfield came out to 
Buffalo to identify their sons, who had been killed and 



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buried in a mound in the grave-ground. 2 They had been 
buried without coffins. My mother gave the Bloomfield 
people refreshments and they warmed by the fire and seemed 
to be sadly afflicted. 

In a few days, Judge Granger said to my mother that his 
family were in Canandaigua and he was going there to 
stay the remainder of the winter, that he was afraid to leave 
nis house empty for fear it would be filled with soldiers; 
that he would leave his sisters, Mrs. Remington and her 
family and Mrs. Forward and her family, and he would give 
a room or two to my mother if she would move out there, 
and that would leave no room for the quartermaster to take. 
So we made ready to accept Judge Granger's kind offer, 
and moved to his place out on the Three-mile Creek. Be- 
fore moving, mother rented the small house to Mr. Holden 
Allen, father of Levi Allen, for $300. 

By the kindness of an aunt, Mrs. Philander Bennett's 
mother, part of the family were carried away to Oneida 
County and the younger part, with my mother, moved out to 
the Granger farm. We were very comfortable, with old 
John Puffinburg to take care of all of the families and a very 
large flock of sheep. 

2. This burial was probably in the old Franklin-square cemetery, now the 
site of the City Hall. There were however many burials of soldiers during 
and after the war, at other points in the present city; some on the Terrace, 
some in what is now Delaware Avenue below Eagle, and others in old "Sandy 
Town," below the Terrace, on the banks of the Niagara, and at several places in 
Black Rock. 




Sixty-four years ago this 3ist day of December, 1877, the 
then village of Buffalo was laid in ashes by the British. In 
reviewing the events of that memorable day I do not wish to 
criticise any statements that have been made in histories or 
newspapers concerning the movements of our troops, or any 
of the occurrences of that time, but having passed more 
years in Buffalo than any man now living and feeling as 
great if not a greater interest than others in the past, present 
and future of our city, I feel justified in pointing out and 
correcting some of the errors that have gone into history 
concerning the burning of Buffalo and in stating facts, most 
of them of my own personal knowledge and recollection, in 
their stead. 

In the summer campaign of 1813 our army was with- 
drawn from Canada and upon doing so our commander, 
General McClure, after blowing up Fort George, very un- 
wisely and unnecessarily burned Newark, now known as 
Niagara, Ont. This proceeding greatly enraged the Cana- 
dians and they boldly declared that they would be revenged 
by burning some of our villages, and Buffalo especially 

i. The reminiscences here printed, of the burning of Buffalo, by one who 
witnessed it and shared in the events of the time, contain some details not else- 
where recorded, and correct some statements in the histories. The account was 
written in Mr. Hodge's old age, on the sixty-fourth anniversary of the principal 
events described, -and is here printed from a paper deposited with the Buffalo 
Historical Society. Mr. Hodge died April 24, 1887. 


should be destroyed by fire ; and all the residents of Buffalo 
felt that if possible they would carry out this intended re- 

In consequence of this and the presence of the English 
troops across the river, militia men were raised in different 
parts of our country and sent on to Buffalo for protection. 
For a number of weeks and up to the time the British crossed 
the river they continued to pour into the village until it was 
said we had between 3,000 and 4,000 men under arms. The 
British force that crossed afterwards proved to have 
amounted to 1,200 regulars and 200 or 300 Indians. 

It was supposed our army was of strength sufficient to 
whip and drive back any force that would be sent against us. 

I remember well how much our commander, General 
Hall, was censured for rousing our men from their slumbers 
and marching them down Niagara Street, on one of the dark- 
est of dark nights, to meet the British regulars in open fight 
and allowing our troops to be outflanked by the Indians, 
whose savage yells coming on all sides from an unseen foe, 
were enough to frighten even bolder hearts than were pos- 
sessed by these new recruits, but a few days from their 
farms and homes. It was the universal judgment that our 
men should have been kept where they were and prepared to 
meet the enemy when they should arrive near the village, 
which would have been after daylight. 

Upon examination of the different historical accounts of 
the events that took place in our immediate vicinity on the 
day Buffalo was burned, I fail to find anything of a full and 
correctly detailed description, but find some statements pub- 
lished in the journals of the day, written evidently by those 
who knew but little of the actual facts, or certainly they 
would not have been so incorrect. 

My father and his family were absent from our home but 
one week. Our house being burned, we returned and lived 
in a house near by and put up an addition immediately. 

My father kept a public house or tavern all through and 
after this war, and the house was thronged with company. 
All battles and events of the war were fully related and dis- 


cussed in our bar-room, and I, although but a boy, heard 
much that was said, as I was required to be there much of 
the time to wait on the guests. 

Boys hear and remember many things that older people 
sometimes forget or think of not sufficient importance to put 
on record as a matter of history ; but history is made up of 
little things, which, placed in detail, help to make up the 

I will endeavor to state as I remember them and as I 
heard them many times related, and over and over again re- 
peated during the weeks and months immediately following 
the day of the burning. 

For some days previous and until the morning of that 
day, there had been a company of our cavalry stationed at 
my father's public house on the hill just above Cold Spring. 
It was a patrol of this company which, between one and two 
o'clock on the morning of Dec. 30, 1813, first discovered the 
British on this side. 

They had landed a short distance below Squaw Island, 
then had marched up and crossed Scajaquada Creek on the 
old bridge, which was not far from its mouth, and continu- 
ing their march had easily captured our lower battery. This 
battery was nearly at the head of Squaw Island. They had 
met with but little opposition from their first landing to this 
place. At or near this place they were met by our militia. 
It had gotten to be nearly daylight. About this time another 
force of the enemy crossed and landed nearly opposite where 
their first body stood formed in line. At this point the battle 
was fought. 

Many of our men on the march from the village down to 
Black Rock had left the ranks and when our force met the 
enemy, more than half of our militia had deserted and fled 
through the woods. Those who remained fought well for a 
time, but very soon broke their ranks and fled, and then en- 
sued a general stampede of our entire force into and through 
the woods. The enemy continued their march up the Black 
Rock road, or Niagara Street, meeting with no opposition 
excepting from the brave Col. Cyrenius Chapin and a few 


followers who brought to bear on them a small field piece. 
It was commonly reported after the battle of that morning 
that the British officers had said that they were on the point 
of surrendering to our force and if our men had stood their 
ground and given them one more volley they would have 
done so. 

These erroneous statements published in many of the 
eastern newspapers were probably obtained from those who 
first left the scene of action (if they were in it at all) and 
the editors of course published the first accounts they could 
get, which undoubtedly came from those who first ran away. 

There were a number of our neighbors and townsmen in 
the battle that morning; among them two of my uncles, 
Loring and Alfred Hodge. After the battle these two re- 
turned to their homes in the vicinity of Cold Spring and 
with their father, Benjamin Hodge, Sr., and their brother, 
William Hodge, were the last to leave the neighborhood, 
and it was not until the flames were doing their destroying 
work down in the village. 

After our men had broken ranks and commenced to run 
there was no such thing as stopping them. They took to 
the woods in an easterly direction and when they came out 
the fields between the Guide Board road and Cold Spring 
were covered with our "gallant" soldiery. One man 
wounded in the shoulder by a musket ball came across the 
fields to the house of the widow Cotton, a near neighbor. 
While George W. Cotton, her son, was getting off the man's 
coat to examine and dress the wound, the cry was so strong 
that the British and Indians were coming, that the wounded 
man would not wait but ran across the road and into the 
woods following scores of others upon a full run. And yet 
Mrs. Cotton and her family and most of the other families in 
the village had not as yet left their homes. The fact is that 
our militia army and most of the officers were far ahead of 
the inhabitants in fleeing before the enemy that morning; 
the officers showing and practicing as much cowardice as 
the men. 


There was a feeble effort made to rally the men at the 
Cold Spring, but they could no more be stopped than a flock 
of sheep when they once get started to go by you. At Wil- 
liamsville bridge they succeeded better, some being stopped 
there and continuing to keep a guard at that place. 

In the Manlius Times, published Jan. 4, 1814, there is an 
account published, and copied into the appendix of Ketch- 
urn's "History of Buffalo," of the battle of the 3Oth ult., the 
day Buffalo was burned, which contains several errors. 

It states that the skirmish that took place with our militia 
was when the enemy landed, and lasted several hours ; while 
in truth, our force stationed there being small, retreated 
almost immediately. Again it says: "Toward daylight a 
body of regulars, from 800 to 1,000, with cannon, etc., 
landed at the mouth of Buffalo Creek, directly above the 
village." This is entirely false. Then it says: "Our men 
finding themselves attacked on both flanks, immediately re- 
treated or rather fled through the woods on to the road near 
Major Miller's" (at Cold Spring). As far as the retreating 
or fleeing is concerned this is true, but then it proceeds with : 
"Here Gen. Hall rallied them and conducted them towards 
Buffalo, where they met the enemy, and considerable hard 
fighting took place." This is not true. There was no march- 
ing back, no rallying and no fighting. This must have been 
written by one who drew largely on his imagination. 

From a letter in Ketchum's history dated Jan. 3, 1814, to 
General Porter at Albany, I quote the following: "The 
enemy then (that was after the battle) marched to Buffalo, 
a detachment taking the road to Granger's mills" (on Sca- 
jaquada Creek). This was not so, as none of the enemy 
went out there that day with the exception of some scouting 
Indians. Some few Indians did come up the Guide Board 
road (now North Street) and shot at our people as they were 
passing on Main Street, wounding one man in the knee, but 
they did not come up as far as the main road. 

What little Mr. Turner says in his "History of the Hol- 
land Purchase" in relation to the battle of that day is correct, 


excepting where he says : "Looking up Main Street Judge 
Walden saw a small force approaching, and immediately 
started to meet it. It proved to be a detachment of forty 
regular soldiers under the command of Lieut. Riddle march- 
ing in to save the village," etc. I think this statement must 
be without any good foundation as I never had heard or seen 
any account of such an event. If it had been a fact I think 
some of us would have known of it and it would have been 
spoken of at that time or immediately after. 

Our family fled from our home late that morning, not 
until the enemy had arrived in the village. We were on the 
road all the way to Williamsville and three miles beyond and 
nothing was seen or heard of any soldiers going toward 
Buffalo. The fact is all had their faces turned toward the 
other way and seemed to be in a great hurry. 

Another account says : "The enemy remained on this side 
until Saturday." This, too, is a mistake. They all returned 
across the river the same day they came (Thursday). It 
was known afterwards that they said they dared not remain 
over night, fearing their retreat would be cut off. These 
things were spoken of at that time and I have no doubt were 

It is well known that some of the enemy returned the fol- 
lowing Saturday and finished their work of destruction by 
burning the few remaining buildings on the outskirts of the 
village. They also took about thirty citizens as prisoners 
and carried them over to Canada. On this same Saturday 
a half-blood British Indian came on to the main road just 
above Cold Spring to my father's joiner shop where some 
household goods and clothing were stored. He proceeded to 
make up a bundle of such things as he desired, brought them 
out and laid them over the fence. He then went to Mr. 
Hodge's dwelling house which had just been set on fire by 
the enemy, took a brand and crossed the road to set the barn 
which stood across the street on fire. Just then a company 
of our horsemen came up from towards Cold Spring and 
took him prisoner. 


The same day, a little before this occurrence, three British 
Indians came into the back door of Major Miller's tavern at 
Cold Spring. They found in the house a Mrs. Martin, an 
inmate of the major's family. They were about to set fire 
to the house when Mrs. Martin delayed them by furnishing 
food, as they seemed to be somewhat hungry. Mrs. Martin 
had been informed that there would be a company of horse- 
men there soon, and was desirous of preventing them setting 
the house on fire until they arrived. They did come gallop- 
ing up while the Indians were yet eating, who, when they 
discovered our horsemen, left the house by the same way 
they came, but in a far greater hurry, and ran across the 
fields into the woods. This company of horsemen was under 
the command of Colonel Totman, and had been stationed for 
the day at Atkins' tavern, the "Old Homestead," on Buffalo 

It is related at the time that while stationed there one of 
the horsemen gave chase to an Indian on Walden's Hill. 
The Indian jumped the fence and was making good time 
across the fields towards the woods when a man opened the 
fence for the horseman to pass through, who, putting his 
horse at high speed, overtook the Indian before he reached 
the woods and cut him down with his sabre. 

Colonel Totman was shot from his horse on that day and 
instantly killed, by a British horseman. He fell from his 
horse by the side of the road, directly opposite to where 
Riley Street enters Main. His body was carried out to the 
Harris Hill Tavern by laying it across a horse's back, and I 
saw his body that evening lying on the bar-room table. The 
Indian that was taken while trying to fire our barn was put 
in charge of a Dr. Tourtlelot, who, in company with an- 
other man, escorted him out to or near Batavia, where he 
was shot and killed. They reported that he attempted to 
make his escape. 

The people living at a distance from the scene of war 
were more frightened than those who were in the immediate 
vicinity. This was shown by many families living fifteen to 


twenty miles away from Buffalo moving away from their 
homes on the morning the village was burned, and not re- 
turning until the following spring, their houses in the mean- 
time being occupied oftentimes by those whose homes in the 
village had been burned. 




About the last of October, 1812, we were alarmed by the 
British firing across the Niagara river, though nothing seri- 
ous occurred until our men crossed and cut out the two ves- 
sels then stationed off Fort Erie, which caused great excite- 
ment. While trying to bring them across one of them got 
away and floated down the river, landing on the out side of 
Squaw Island, where she grounded, and the British burned 
her. The other, they brought over safe and landed her in 
Scajaquada creek. While General Schuyler was giving 
orders to his men to get ropes from a storehouse to tow her 
down, a cannon-ball took his head off, as he sat on his 
horse. This caused a still greater alarm, and the inhabi- 
tants one and all sought safe places of refuge. 

My husband, Benjamin Bidwell, came home at sunrise 
and requested me to get ready to go with him to his sister's 

i. Now first printed from a manuscript dated "Buffalo, Feb. 22, 1864," 
deposited with the Buffalo Historical Society. Mrs. Bidwell was the wife of 
Benjamin Bidwell, of the firm of Bidwell & Banta, pioneer ship-builders of 
Buffalo. He died Dec. 21, 1862. She came from Connecticut to Buffalo in 
1810, and at her death, March 4, 1875, there were few in Buffalo who had 
lived here so long as she. She had nine children, the eldest, John, being the 
child whom she carried in her arms when she fled from British cannon-balls. 
Another son was the lamented General Daniel D. Bidwell, killed at Cedar 
Creek, Va., Oct. 19, 1864, while fighting for the Union. His memory is pre- 
served in Buffalo by the names of Bidwell-Wilkeson Post, G. A. R., Bidwell 
Parkway, etc. For a sketch of the Bidwell family, see the Buffalo Times, 
June 9, 1901. 


Mrs. Stanard's, who lived across a small run near by, not 
more than 100 feet distant. As the cellar to her house was 
barricaded we thought it a safe retreat ; but while we were 
going to Mrs. Stanard's a cannon-ball passed us, the con- 
cussion of which threw down a little girl I was leading by 
the hand, but no injury was done her. My child being sick, 
I was 1 obliged to carry him in my arms. 

When we arrived at our sister's, we concluded the woods 
would be a safer place, accordingly we directed our journey 
thither, where we met with many of our acquaintances; 
among others, Mrs. Sill and Mrs. Sealey, with their fam- 
ilies. Mrs. Sill sent to her house for provisions and cooking 
utensils. After we had kindled a fire and had the breakfast 
nearly ready, another cannon-ball took possession of it, 
scattering it all over the woods ; whereupon we thought best 
to scatter ourselves and not wait for the enemy's balls to 
do it. 

Mr. Bidwell went back to Mr. Stanard's barn, harnessed 
the horses, hitched them to the wagon, returned! to the 
wood's, took all the children and such as could not walk, in 
the wagon; and leaving the rest to follow, we went out to 
Cold Springs and stopped with Mr. Hodge, where we suc- 
ceeded in getting our breakfast after 4 o'clock p. m. After 
tarrying with Mr. Hodge one night and two days, we re- 
turned to our homes. 

Some two or three weeks after this, a party of soldiers 
and sailors crossed the river, spiked the cannon and burned 
the barracks just opposite our house. A house belonging 
to Mr. Douglas they made their quarters, where they kept 
their prisoners and their dead and wounded, and brought 
Lieut. King to a house across the road from our house, 
where he remained until his death from wounds. While he 
was there, I did his cooking. 

We were next disturbed on Sunday the I5th of July, 
when the alarm was given that the redcoats' had crossed the 
river and were marching on Buffalo, taking our men pris- 
oners as they went along. Col. Bishops [Bisshopp], com- 
manding the expedition of the redcoats, came to me, wishing 


to enter a grocery owned by Mr. Williams, which had been 
left in my possession, under the plea of wishing to buy tea 
and tobacco. As there was none, he found a cask of goods 
that was to be sent to Fort George. Being anxious to see 
its contents he took his sword and commenced ripping it 
open. While doing so, the trumpet sounded and he left 
for the battlefield. Where the house built afterwards by 
General Porter now stands, Col. Bisshopp was shot from 
his horse. They took him to the beach, placed him in a 
boat to carry him across the river, and he died. 

The next day, Monday, we left our home and went to the 
Plains, stopping with Mr. Atkins one week, when we again 
returned to our homes, where we remained until Lewiston 
was burned. Being again alarmed, we went to Mr. Curtiss' 
place on the Plains and stayed about ten days. In the mean- 
time the Government had possession of our home for quar- 

We did not return again until after the burning of Buf- 
falo. Our house being burned with the rest, we went from 
Mr. Curtiss's to Harris' tavern, beyond Eleven-mile creek. 
From there we went to Spooner's tavern, where we found 
a great many from Buffalo, the Wells and Johnson families 
and others. From there we started for Kinderhook on the 
North river. We did not return until the next August. 

In the following November we rebuilt part of our house. 
During a great part of the time Mr. Bidwell was engaged in 
building the fleet at Sackett's Harbor and Erie, and at the 
burning of Buffalo he was one of the volunteers who started 
from Cold Springs to try and protect Buffalo, and drive the 
redcoats back. At the time Col. Bisshopp was shot, Mr. 
Bidwell and Mr. Stanard were engaged in making oars for 
the Government. 

Head-Quarters, Quebec, 8/A Jany. 1814 


as the satisfaction of announcing to the Troops, that heJias received 
tch from Lieut. General Drummond, reporting the complete success 
of an attack that was made at day break, on the morning of the 30th Decem- 
ber, on the Enemy's position at. Black Rock, where he was advantageously 
posted, with upwards of 2000 men, and after a short, but severe contest, the 
Enemy was repulsed in the most gallant manner, and pursued in his retreat to 
Buffalo, where he attempted to make a stand, but on receiving a few rounds 
from the.British Field Pieces, he abandoned that Post also, and fled with pre- 
cipitation to the II Mile Creek, -on Lake Erie, leaving 7 Field Pieces, and 4 
Schooners and Sloops, with a considerable quantity of Ordnance and other 
valuable Stores, which have fallen into our hands. The Enemy suffered se- 
verely, but from the rapidity of his flight, 70 Prisoners only, are taken, a- 
mong whom is Doctor or Lieut. Colonel Chapin. 

The Corps under Major General RiaU, consisted of Detachments from the 
Royal Scots, 8tfi (or King's) 41st, and the Flank Companies of the 89th and 
100th Regiments, the whole not exceeding 1000 men. 

The Lieutenant General bestows the highest praise upon the undaunted 
courage, atti patient submission of the Troops, in contempt of (JNe incle- 
mency of jfie \veaiher, and the hardships to which they were exposed. 

No British Officer' has fallen on this occasion : Lieut. Co|. Ogilvie. 8th. (or 
K ing's,) and Capt. Fawcelt, 100th Grenadiers, were wounded, and it is sup- 
posed our loss docs not exceed 25 killed, and 50 wounded 

Black Rock and Buffalo, were Burnt previous to their evacuation by our 
Troops, together with all the Public Buildings and the Four Vessels. A con- 
siderable quantity of Stores having been sent away befor* the conflagration. 


Adjutant General, N. A. 


(Reduced one-third .) 
From an original issue in the library of the Buffalo Historical Society. 




I was born in Connecticut, Sept. 16, 1788; married Oct. 
6, 1809, Miss Anna English, at Exeter, Otsego Co., N. Y. 
She was born January, 1786, in Nova Scotia. We came to 
Buffalo March 18, 1810, and lived near Cold Spring. 

Buffalo was then a small village with two or three stores. 
One was kept by Samuel Pratt and another by Vincent 
Grant. A small tavern stood near the corner of Main and 
Crow (now Exchange) streets. This was kept by Joseph 
Landon. There was also another one on West Seneca near 

Main Street, Cook, proprietor. Messrs. Harris and 

Reese had a blacksmith shop near the Terrace. There were 
one or two other blacksmiths in the place and also one tailor 
by the name of Sackreider. No church graced the village 
and there was no preaching except occasional sermons by 
traveling missionaries. 

Main Street was a very muddy country road. Near 
where Court Street now is, was a large growth of oak shrub- 

i. These reminiscences of Daniel Brayman were written out for him, 
Feb. 24, 1864, by his grandson, Mr. George D. Emerson, and deposited with 
the Buffalo Historical Society. Mr. Brayman died Aug. 5, 1867, at Spring- 
field, 111. 

A son of this pioneer and soldier of the early Buffalo was Mason Bray- 
man, born in Buffalo in 1813, and in 1835 editor of the Buffalo Bulletin, the 
first daily paper in Buffalo. He was admitted to the bar in 1836, served with 
distinction in the Civil War, and was" an early Governor of Idaho territory. He 
was a man of many accomplishments and achievements. He died Feb. 27, 1895. 
An excellent sketch of his career, with portrait, is contained in the Buffalo 
Express, March 10, 1895. 


bery and between the Terrace and Buffalo creek was a large 
swamp tenanted by thousands of frogs. The ground, now 
laid out in those beautiful avenues North and South Division 
streets, was then also very wet and swampy. 

The village continued to increase until the war broke out. 
This was declared on the i/th of June, 1812. Our Cana- 
dian neighbors received the news before we did, as the first 
intimation we had of war was the seizure of the vessel Ex- 
periment. She was one of the first boats that sailed on 
Lake Erie. 2 Buffalo then had no harbor and it was cus- 
tomary for the vessels to start from Black Rock, come up 
the river, and lay off Buffalo, sending into shore for the 
load. It was a calm, quiet day and the Experiment had 
taken up position a little way in the lake to receive her 
cargo from Buffalo, when the British soldiers in and around 
Fort Eri-e crossed over in their small boats, boarded and cap- 
tured the vessel. We then knew that war had been de- 

This was in the afternoon of the 27th of June. About 
sunset that evening Capt. Hannon came drumming along 
for a guard to defend Buffalo. I shouldered my musket and 
started. We assembled on the Terrace, which was then a 
low bluff, to the number of forty-five men armed and 
equipped with such weapons and munitions as could be 
gathered at a moment's notice. A grand army surely to re- 
sist the veterans of England should they take a notion to 
come ! We were the first ones that performed duty in Buf- 
falo. We paraded and blustered around that evening, mak- 
ing a considerable noise, but I am not aware that anybody 
was very seriously injured The militia began to arrive soon 
after and our magnificent corps-d'annee was disbanded. 

Niagara Street then ran straight from the hill to the river 
and the first battery was built near where the street came 
out. I shouldered my shovel and helped throw up the work. 

2. The Experiment was a schooner of thirty tons, built at Buffalo before 
the War of 1812, but can hardly be called "one of the first boats" on Lake 
Erie, since the British had several vessels on the lake from 1761, and several 
American vessels were built at Lake Erie ports before the Experiment. 


In July, 1813, the British crossed over below Scajaquada 
creek. A bridge spanned the stream and a sentinel had been 
stationed there to give the alarm should the enemy come. 
On the rise of ground above the creek a blockhouse had been 
built which was then garrisoned by a few men. The sen- 
tinel saw the redcoats coming but instead of alarming the 
garrison he, to use a modern war-phrase, "skedaddled," 
throwing away his gun without even firing it off and by the 
next morning was somewhere near Williamsville. The 
British observing by the quietness that reigned that all were 
asleep in the blockhouse, for it was but little after midnight, 
quietly stole by, proceeded up the road, burned the barracks 
and made their way back to their boats, before any consid- 
erable number had been aroused. Gen. Peter B. Porter, 
however, saw them coming and hastily springing through 
his back door made his escape with nothing on, it is said, 
but a certain linen garment. 

In the winter of 1813, just before the burning of the vil- 
lage, it was rumored that the British were about to cross 
over on the ice from Point Abino and attack Buffalo. An 
expedition was immediately organized under, I think, Peter 
B. Porter, to give them a warm reception should they come. 
I harnessed my team and took out quite a load of young fel- 
lows. We went out on the ice and took up position near 
Point Abino. We took with us one 6-pounder, but after 
waiting quite a while no Britons appeared and we returned 
home. Gen. Amos Hall was then in command of the troops 
in Buffalo. His doings were but a continuation of that in- 
competence and mismanagement that had brought disgrace 
and defeat to our arms. 

On the morning of the 3oth of December the British 
forces consisting of regulars and Indians crossed over and 
took up position near the battery. Several attempts were 
made to dislodge them but owing to want of skill and num- 
bers the parties were repulsed and dispersed each time, part 
being killed, part wounded and the rest probably thinking 
that discretion was the better part of valor would take to 
their heels. This policy was continued until the number of 


men was reduced to about 600. These fought for a while 
until orders were received from Gen. Hall to retreat, or as 
the expression was, for each man to take care of himself. 
They retreated to the woods in their rear but found them 
occupied by the Indians. A fierce fight ensued and many 
were killed and scalped. It was about 10 o'clock p. m. when 
the fight ended. The enemy did not come up that evening. 

About 8 o'clock I was at the quartermaster's department, 
but learning that 2,700 rations had been drawn that day, re- 
turned home feeling perfectly safe. I saw that day thirteen 
bodies of the killed laying at Reese's blacksmith shop. It 
was a bitter cold day and the bodies were frozen stiff just 
as the men had died. They were in all conceivable postures. 
Legs and arms twisted around in all shapes ; the gaping 
wounds, the mangled heads torn by the ruthless scalping 
knife, all formed a sight horrible to behold. 

One valiant captain, before going into the action, made 
a speech to his men and wound up by telling them to stand 
by their captain to stick by him and all would be well. But 
a shell happening to explode near him, he probably thought 
he had business somewhere else, and he turned and took 
what a thief would call "leg bail." His men, remembering 
his last caution, also turned and ran. One of the fellows 
said he tried to obey orders, but after sticking close to his 
captain's heels for about four miles, gave out, the captain 
being too tough for him. 

The troops engaged were principally raw militia and 
seeing for the first time the bursting shells and the rockets, 
and hearing the whistling of the bullets and the horrid yells 
of the savages, and influenced by incompetent and cowardly 
commanders, it is no wonder that they did not fight better. 

That evening (the 3Oth) a man came along and reported 
that the British and Indians were coming. I did not credit 
the story and went to bed. The people of Black Rock and 
Buffalo seemed to think different from me, for we could 
hear all night long the tramp of the fugitives. Wagons and 
horses were not plenty then and most of the panic-struck 
ones fled on foot. Before daybreak next morning Major 


Miller came to our house and rousing us up told us that we 
must leave that the British were corning to burn the town 
and that all the militia had ran away. I immediately har- 
nessed up my team and made preparations to leave. Mrs. 
Brayman put her bake-kettle with bread in it, some pork 
and other things, into the wagon. The town was now about 
deserted, and seeing it was useless to remain we started. 
We overtook the fugitives this side of Eleven-mile creek, 
which we reached a little after sunrise. We went to Hen- 
shaw's tavern but found it deserted, the occupants having 
left it in such haste as even to leave the breakfast dishes on 
the table. Mrs. Brayman cooked our breakfast here and in 
a little while we started on. We could then see the smoke 
issuing from burning Buffalo. We continued on about three 
miles, rinding empty houses plenty the panic having been 
as great if not greater than at Buffalo. We went into one 
house where the folks had thrown everything into the gar- 
den. Butter, lard, pork, feathers from the beds, etc., lay 
around in sweet confusion. We tried to straighten out mat- 
ters but the owners not returning until spring we remained 
in the house during the winter. 

In March, 1814, we returned to Buffalo. Only one small 
house, Mrs. St. John's, had been spared the general destruc- 
tion. Quite a number had come back before we did and had 
improvised houses in every manner. Some had built little 
shanties, while others had merely roofed their cellars. The 
village was partially rebuilt during the summer (1814) and 
things began to assume their old shape. During this sum- 
mer the battles of Chippewa, Lundy's Lane and Fort Erie 
were fought. Although living at Cold Spring I distinctly 
heard the guns fired at Lundy's Lane. This battle com- 
menced a little after noon and continued until near mid- 
night. Shortly after the action our forces retreated down 
the peninsula to Fort Erie, the English troops following in 
close pursuit. For six weeks our army was besieged in the 
fort, the British batteries extending in a circle around them 
from the river above to the river below the fort. I could 
hear the cannon fire off -every little while night and day. 


Finding they made no progress in a siege the British at- 
tempted to take the fort by storm. The assault was made 
towards morning on the 3d of August. We heard the can- 
non and small arms fiercely rattling away and I immediately 
rose. Pretty soon we heard the explosion of the magazine. 
Thinking that it was all over with our brave boys I mounted 
my horse and rode to the river's edge. I remained there 
until morning in an agony of suspense, but when the first 
beams of day tinted the sky and unfolded to view in all its 
original lustre our glorious flag yet waving in triumph over 
the beleaguered fort, I then felt inexpressibly relieved. Gen. 
Porter succeeded in raising a force of 400 gallant young 
men and they crossed over to the relief of their besieged 
countrymen. A sortie was made from the fort and the be- 
sieging force routed and dispersed. Our troops then crossed 
to Buffalo. During the summer I was engaged consider- 
ably in teaming for the army, drawing quartermaster stores, 
etc., and that winter I took up on the ice a load of sailors for 
Commodore Perry's fleet. In August, 1815, I left Buffalo 
and came to Hamburg, where I have since resided. 

Feb. 24, 1864. 




I lived in the village of Buffalo was one of the printers 
of the Buffalo Gazette. On the receipt of the declaration of 
war, delivered by the United States against Great Britain, 
June 17, 1812 [I] formed associations with others to stand 
guard, when the regular military could not act. I continued 
this from time to time until the burning of Buffalo, Dec. 30, 

In the summer of 1813 it was thought that Black Rock 
was exposed to an invasion from the other side. I, under 
the command of Colonel Chapin, assisted by Colonel Adams 
and Major Stanton, State volunteers, crossed over to Can- 
ada, where we took a provincial lieutenant and brought away 
a boat. 

On Sunday morning the nth of July, just before day- 
light, Colonels Bisshopp and Warren with about 250 of the 
41 st, 49th and King's regiments, crossed the Niagara below 
Squaw Island, and marched far above the navy-yard, before 

i. Here printed from a manuscript deposited with the Buffalo Historical 
Society by Elias O. Salisbury, in June, 1895, consisting of an extract from 
the Buffalo Gazette of July 13, 1813, and a sworn statement by Hezekiah A. 
Salisbury, dated March n, 1856, certifying to its truth. Mr. Salisbury was 
born in Gloucester, R. I., Feb. 24, 1789, was one of Buffalo's pioneer printers, 
and died in Buffalo, March 14, 1856, eighteen days after having sworn to and 
subscribed the paper here printed. 


any alarm was given. The detached militia at Black Rock, 
being surprised, retreated up the beach, and left the enemy 
in the undisturbed possession of the village. They immedi- 
ately burned the sailors' barracks at the great battery. They 
then proceeded to the batteries, dismounted and spiked three 
i2-pounders, and took away three field-pieces and one 12- 
pounder; and also took away from the beach and store- 
house a quantity of whiskey, salt, flour, pork, etc., but to 
what amount is not known. Messrs. Joseph Sill, A. Stanard, 
Mr. Seelye and I. Caskay were taken across the river. 

Major Adams, at the moment of retreat, dispatched an 
express to Buffalo. A part of his men came to Buffalo; 
the remainder left the beach and made the road leading from 
Buffalo to Black Rock, and took post near the road. When 
the express arrived at Buffalo Captain Cummins of the 
regular army, with 100 infantry and dragoons, marched for 
the Rock. Perceiving, however, that the enemy was ad- 
vantageously posted at the upper battery, with a superior 
force, [he] very prudently returned to Buffalo. Captain 
Bull had not collected his company, which was considerably 
augmented by volunteers. 

From the first moment of the alarm, General Porter left 
Black Rock for Buffalo, and was actively employed in ar- 
ranging the subsequent operations, and encouraging volun- 
teers. The alarm came to the neighborhood of Major Mil- 
ler's and Judge Granger's early, and in a short time thirty 
or forty volunteers came from the Plains. About thirty 
Indians, which were stationed at Judge Granger's, came 
down and all the forces formed a junction within about one 
mile of the enemy. General Porter, with 100 detached 
militia under Major Adams, took the left, the regulars and 
Buffalo volunteers the center; and Captain William Hull, 
with about thirty volunteers from the Plains and thirty 
Indians under Farmer's Brother, formed the right. 

It was expected that the enemy had posted two field- 
pieces at the barracks to rake the road ; and it being there- 
fore imprudent to advance the center until the enemy were 
forced from their position, the right and left moved on the 


enemy's flanks. The left commenced the attack, which was 
quickly seconded and ably supported by the right. The right 
wing being pretty well concealed, they suffered but little 
from the evening's fire. After a contest of fifteen or twenty 
minutes, the ene~hiy left their position at the barracks, and 
by the time the center began to move, at the sound of the 
bugle, he retreated precipitately with the utmost disorder 
and confusion, to the beach, at the lower store-house, and 
embarked in several of our boats and pulled for the opposite 
shore. All the boats except the last, it is believed, got off 
without injury, but the hindmost boat was much exposed to 
our fire, and from the appearance of the boat the crew must 
have been nearly all killed or wounded. 

The British lost eight killed on the field, and five 
wounded, besides those killed and wounded in the boat, and 
fifteen prisoners were taken. Captain Sanders [Saunders] 
of the 49th was mortally wounded while stepping into the 
boat. He stated that Colonel Bisshopp was badly wounded 
and carried into the boat, also that several others killed and 
wounded were carried into the boats. Our loss was three 
killed and five wounded and probably a few taken prisoners. 
The killed were Jonathan Thompson of Caledonia, Sergeant 
Hartman of Riga and Joseph Wright of Black Rock. Nearly 
half of the militia (Major Adams informs us) had gone 
home. Those who remained did their duty like soldiers. 
Young King and another Indian were wounded. 

It is now more than a year since the declaration of war, 
and this is the first attempt of the enemy to invade Black 
Rock; and considering the repulse they have met with it 
will not certainly redound to their credit when the force 
was composed of veteran troops who had seen service, and 
ours consisting of militia and new recruits who had, very 
few of them, been in an engagement before. 

During the whole day, the roads leading to Buffalo were 
filled with volunteers, from the different towns. 

Since the above was in type, we have been informed, that 
the enemy took a quantity of goods from Sill's store, and 
from buildings which were deserted some plunder was taken. 


[The above extract was taken from an editorial article 
in the Buffalo Gazette of Tuesday, July 13, 1813.] 

Captain Bull's volunteer company immediately mustered 
upon hearing of the invasion and were earnestly addresssed 
by General Porter, and marched towards Black Rock, par- 
ticipated in the action above mentioned, and continued en- 
gaged until the enemy's final retreat. I was a member of 
Captain Bull's company, and participated in the services of 
the day. 





On the 4th of June, 1813, not far from midnight, about 
300 to 400 British regulars with two colonels, commanded 
if memory serves me true by Col. Bishop [Bisshopp], landed 
at Black Rock without any opposition, for the purpose of 
celebrating the birthday of George III. 

At that time Gen. Peter B. Porter was an old bachelor, 
but kept house. He was awakened early in the morning by 
the noise made by some British officers who were ordering 
his housekeeper to get their breakfast. The general jumped 
out of the second-story window and put for Buffalo. About 
opposite where Mr. E. D. Efner's house now is, but on 
Niagara Street, lived a negro by the name of Franklin. 
From him Gen. Porter got an old gray horse to ride. He 
passed on to Buffalo to rally the troops. A British officer 
appeared before the Grand Battery, commanded by Major 
Parmenia Adams, and demanded its surrender. The major 
told him he was not the commander, it was General Porter. 
As soon as the officer left, the major with 250 men left for 

In the meantime about sixty dismounted dragoons 
(United States troops), started to meet the enemy. As they 
passed our house my father fell into the ranks with them. 
I, like all boys, was anxious to see what was going on. I 
started after them, but kept at a respectable distance back, 


so that my father would not see me. These men went to 
where Franklin (the black man I have referred to) lived. 
There the officer commanding concluded it was not prudent 
to attack the enemy with so small a force, so they turned 
back for Buffalo. 

When I saw them returning I hid in the bushes alongside 
of the road. After they had passed I returned to the road. 
I had been but a short time in the road when I heard a man 
halloo to me, asking me if I had seen any British. 1 told 
him I had not. He then hallooed to the men to come on, 
when out from the woods came Major Adams and his men. 
They went on to Buffalo. 

General Porter rallied all the force he could in Buffalo, 
with about 100 Indians under Farmer's Brother. He 
mounted nine or ten dragoons and started for Black Rock 
with quite a force. When they got within a short distance 
of the Grand Battery they gave an Indian yell and charged 
the British, who were not in line but scattered all over. Their 
boats lay in the river below. They ran for them. The 
mounted dragoons rushed in their midst and cut them down 
as fast as they could come on them. Our men rushed to 
the brow of the hill and fired into the boats ; as fast as they 
manned the oars they were shot down. One boat would 
hold a large number of men. Into it the two colonels got. 
They finally got aground on the upper end of Squaw island. 
They raised a white flag and we stopped firing, but they still 
would try to get away, when we commenced firing again. 
Finally the boat from the Canada shore got them away. 

The river was full of dead men. They must have lost 
300 men or more. Both of the colonels were killed ; I after- 
wards saw their graves on the opposite side of the river. 
The Indians stripped the dead. I saw nine bodies lying 
alongside of each other as naked as they were born. I be- 
lieve we lost not more than one or two killed, some eight or 
nine wounded. Among the wounded I saw the Indian, 
Young King, wounded in the foot, and a man by the name 
of Groosebeck who had his teeth shot out in front. So 
ended the British celebration of June 4, 1813. 



CANANDAIGUA, gth Nov. 1812. 

WORTHY FRIEND : The bearer of your letter, dated 23rd 
ultimo this moment darked the door of my office. He is on 
his way to the frontier, and inasmuch as that is a dangerous 
place, and he may never return, I shall, without waiting the 
uncertain event, write immediately by mail. The former 
letter you mention has not yet arrived. You expect I am in 
the army. This is not the case, but to tell you the truth, I 
have recently returned from a short, but tedious campaign, 
in which I suffered much fatigue, fought one battle, sur- 
rendered my sword to a victorious enemy on the memorable 
1 3th, was a prisoner of war, in Canada, six days and finally 
sent home on my parole of honor. All this was done in less 
than four weeks. As the saing is, this campaign was "more 
short than sweet." 

Yes, friend Stewart, I was an actor in the awful tragedy 
at Queenstown, of which you must have seen the official ac- 
counts. I shall not trouble you with a rehearsal of the 
events of that day, when after a splendid victory in the 
morning, we suffered the extreme mortification of a defeat. 
Little did I think, Sir, at our last interview, that one of the 

i. Letter of Jared Willson, written at Canandaigua, N. Y., Nov. 9, 1812, 
to his friend, Mr. Alvan Stewart, Cherry Valley, Otsego Co., N. Y. Now for 
the first time published, and printed verbatim from the original manuscript in 
the possession of the Buffalo Historical Society. 


Triumvirate would ever witness such a scene; still less did 
I think that I should suffer the indignity of surrendering 
my sword to a British officer, but such is the fate of War, in 
which we all ought to engage when our country calls. 

The Battallion of Rifle-men, to which I belong were sent 
out after the first engagement, a mile or more from the main 
body to make discoveries. We had not been gone long, 
when a party of indian Devils about two hundred, attacked 
us in the woods. We were far inferior in numbers and of 
course compelled to retreat precipitately. The savages, 
greedy for plunder, and thirsting for blood pursued us 
closely, firing and yelling, in a most frightful manner. They 
pursued us close to the main body, but in their turn were 
compelled to fly for safety. By this time, I thought hell had 
broken loose and let her dogs of war upon us.- In short I 
expected every moment to be made a "cold Yanky" as the 
soldiers say. About 4 o'clock P. M. came on the "tug of 
War." The british forces and indians united, attacked us 
spiritedly. We obstinately opposed them, against a shower 
of Grape-Shot and musketry but at length fatigued and 
over powered by numbers, we were forced to lay down our 
arms. Our men fought well. The bloody Heights of 
Queenstown will bear testimony to the valor & intrepidity 
of our troops. Thus ended the battle, which commenced 
before daylight and was almost one continued scene of action 
untill the surrender in the afternoon. All this transaction 
took place in fair view of two thousand militia on the op- 
posite shore (poor dastardly wretches) who would not come 
to our assistance had they come we might have held our 
ground untill this time. Oh! shame on them there surely 
must be a severe punishment in reserve for these poor, ig- 
noble, base-born wretches. The indian war-hoop even 
echoed through their camp and still they could not be pre- 
vailed upon to mingle with their associates in arms to op- 
pose the inhuman foe. 

But still I think our commander in Chief is answerable 
for our ill success. He knew the militia would not all cross 
He ought then to have ordered on Gen. Smyth's regulars 


in season to help us. He ought to have had more boats in 
readiness & scows, that we might carry across our field- 
pieces but this was not done. Oh ! shameful neglect ! the 
Gen'l surely must, for this mismanagement answer to his 
country & his God, if he can. In fact, Sir, the whole busi- 
ness of that day & the untimely attack were authorized by 
the commander, at the instigation of his Aid Sol Van- 
Rensalaer, who, allured by the prospects of acquiring un- 
fading Laurels, wished to make a firm stand in Canada with 
a few regulars and a few militia. This ambitious creature 
was to take the command, but in the first of the engagement, 
he was carried off the field severely wounded Thus has 
the ambition of one man and the folly of another brought 
disgrace upon our country. This you will find to be a fact. 

So you see, Sir, I have agreed not to fight his Royal 
Highness any more, at present. I am now at my old stand, 
endeavoring to cultivate the arts of peace. I am no longer 
a resident in the "tented field." The savage War-Hoop 
will not again break my slumbers, hoarse clangor of the 
trumpets call me to the field of Battle. Thanks be to God, 
that my bones are not now bleaching on the awful Heights 
of Queenstown. About three hundred of our men were 
killed and wounded. The enemy must have suffered greater 
loss. Brock & Aid are among the slain, this adds some 
splendor to the engagement. 100 Red Devils are supposed 
to have been killed, among whom were three Chiefs. I 
should like to try the Dogs another pull. 

It appears you are in this State. I wish I could say in 
this town. I believe you might get into the Academy here, 
as the present Preceptor is about to leave it. I should like 
to know if you have our "Alma Mater" for ever. As for 
the Law, I know but little about it as yet, but mean now to 
stick close to my books. L. H. I hope will "puff the vital 
air" a little longer, and then perhaps I may find time to call 
on her. Tim has not written me this long time. I think he 
must be down with the "Flum Fluttocks" or some other 
nervous complaint. Isham & Hitchcock have never written 
me, I must needs think they are "Cold Yankys." 


You must write me immediately & let me know your 
intentions as to the future. In the interim, I remain, 
Yours sincerely, 


Prisoner of War. 
Cherry Valley, 

Otsego Co., N. Y. 




In the year 1811 my father removed with his family into 
the dominion of George III, eight miles west of the Falls of 
Niagara. The first sound of that mighty waterfall, heard at 
the distance of nearly twenty miles in a still, frosty morning, 
is most vivid in my recollection, although sixty-five years 
have intervened. The spray and mist ascending several hun- 
dred feet, congealing and forming such a beautiful cloud in 
the atmosphere above, all conspired to strike the beholder, 
at the first view, with awe and amazement not easily defined. 
Here we settled down under the reign of the old imbecile 
tyrant, whom we had always been taught to hate and de- 
spise. At this time, the Canadas being held with a very 

i. The author of these reminiscences, Mr. Eber D. Howe, was born June 
9, 1798, at Clifton Park, Saratoga Co., N. Y., of parents who had emigrated 
from Connecticut. In 1811 the family removed to the Niagara district in 
Upper Canada, and our author was a witness of and participant in the stirring 
events on the frontier during the next few years. In 1817 he left Buffalo, 
and after short sojourns at Erie, Fredonia, and Cleveland, finally settled in 
Painesville, O., where, as at Cleveland, he was a pioneer publisher. In 1878 
Mr. Howe wrote his recollections, covering the story of his life to that time. 
The narrative was printed in a pamphlet which has long been scarce, but is of 
considerable value as a chronicle of early days in Western New York, Penn- 
sylvania and the Western Reserve of Ohio. ("Autobiography and Recollections 
of a Pioneer Printer. By Eber D. Howe, Painesville, Ohio: Telegraph steam 
printing house. 1878." i6mo., pp. 59.) Many years ago Mr. Howe deposited 
with the Buffalo Historical Society, a copy of his narrative, with corrections 
and additions. It is from this copy, that the portion relating to the Niagara 
region and Buffalo is here printed. 


uncertain tenure, the people were treated by the mother coun- 
try with great deference, and enjoyed all the freedom they 
could reasonably ask. Occasionally some of the old relics 
of monarchy would exhibit themselves ; for instance, it 
was a high crime to damn the king and the royal family, 
which was usually punished by banishment to the United 
States, with the promise of being hung if they returned. 
But this became a rather laughable farce, and was dis- 

At that time there were not more than one or two news- 
papers published in the whole Province, and as "war and 
rumors of war" were getting rife, it became a question of 
great moment how we were to get the news from the States. 
About this time, in a little village called. Buffalo, at the foot 
of Lake Erie, a newspaper was started called the Buffalo 
Gazette, the only one then, I think, west of Canandaigua. 
But was this to help us ? No mails, no post-offices, no post- 
riders. But "where there's a will there's a way." In a 
few weeks, in the beginning of 1812, there was seen ap- 
proaching our neighborhood a man with a pack upon his 
back, wading through the snow almost to his knees. It 
proved to be a real, genuine, live post-walker. He had the 
Buffalo paper, and was fixing up a route from Buffalo to 
the head of Lake Ontario, a distance of some sixty miles, 
which he proposed to travel once a week. This we con- 
sidered a godsend. His name was Paul Drinkwater, a 
Scotchman, six feet four in his stockings, and slender out 
of all proportions. He proved to be a man of the most rigid 
economy and perseverance, and seemed determined to suc- 
ceed in so vast an undertaking. He subsisted on hard-tack, 
which he carried along with him, with the addition of 
cider and frequently metheglin, when he could find it at 
his stopping-places. His advent and passage through the 
country was an era of much moment to boys and girls. Paul 
was always on time with his news-pack, and only hauled off 
on the near approach of the war in June following. Nearly 
all the events of that foolish war on the Niagara frontier I 
can relate with more truth and accuracy than any histories 


that I have seen, being an eye-witness and an actor in many 
of them. 

Niagara river is the outlet to that chain of lakes in the 
northwest portion of the American continent, and for the 
most part forms the boundary line of the British possessions. 
It emerges from the foot of Lake Erie, running due north 
about thirty-four miles, and empties into Lake Ontario about 
forty miles from its head. At the head of this river stands 
the City of Buffalo on one side and Fort Erie on the other. 
Eighteen miles below is the little village of Chippewa, at 
the mouth of a small river of that name, on the Canada 
side ; two miles below this are the great Falls, and a mile 
west of this is the famous battle-ground of Lundy's Lane. 
Seven miles farther down is the village of Queenston, and 
Lewiston on the opposite side. Seven miles still farther 
down is Lake Ontario. On the right bank of the mouth is 
the old Fort Niagara, built by the French about two hun- 
dred years ago. Opposite this fort stands the town of 
Newark, and a mile above is the British Fort George. This 
river is nearly a mile wide its whole distance, with the ex- 
ception of the space between the Falls and Queenston, where 
it is quite narrow, with perpendicular banks on either side, 
about one hundred and sixty feet high. This vast chasm, it 
is supposed, has been formed by the wearing away of the 
rock over which the great body of water has been plunging 
for ages past. Across this chasm are now two suspension 
bridges ; but at the time of which I am speaking any man 
would have been convicted of lunacy to have even thought 
of such a project. 

In the war of 1812, then, this river brought the two na- 
tions nearer face to face than any other boundary between 
them ; consequently, this was more naturally chosen as the 
seat of war ; and, as the result of this, it was the place where 
more strife and bloodshed occurred than any other. The act 
declaring war against Great Britain was passed by Congress 
on the 1 7th of June, 1812, and the news was received by 
the Canadian authorities in about four days but on the 
opposite side of the river several days later. In those days 


there were no wires to flash the news through the country. 
But the way in which it was conveyed at that time is now 
very vivid in my memory, and was on this wise : About the 
middle of a very warm day in the month of June, half a mile 
down the road toward the river was discovered a cloud of 
dust, rising and falling in quick succession, and as it ap- 
proached a little nearer a white horse was faintly discovered, 
then a man upon its back, brandishing a long sabre, which 
looked as though it might have descended from the famous 
knight of La Mancha, and been used in the days of wind- 
mills. The poor animal was covered with dust and foam, and 
its sides gored with blood, produced by the long spurs which 
pierced its skin at almost every bound. His cry was : "War ! 
war! war is declared! Every man is ordered to turn out 
and defend his country the Yankees will be over to- 
night!" On, on he went, and I never learned when and 
where he stopped. He was a captain of militia, and had 
probably heard the declaration said to have been once made 
by General Peter B. Porter "that he could take Canada 
with five hundred men any morning before breakfast !" At 
any rate, he was awfully alarmed, and seemed fully deter- 
mined to die in the "last ditch" in defense of His Majesty's 

At this time there were many disloyal people scattered 
through the country, who had quite recently emigrated from 
the other side, and had not fully made up their minds to 
fight. They treated the captain's efforts to have them "fall 
into the ranks" with a derision not very commendable in 
loyal subjects. But no Yankees came that night, for they 
contented themselves with merely looking across the river 
to see the commotions and disturbance among their neigh- 
bors. In due time, however, they received news of the dec- 
laration of war, and instead of crossing the river to attack 
their Canadian neighbors, they had all they could do to pre- 
pare for their own defense. Soon fortifications were erected 
on both sides, and forces were being collected and drilled for 
future operations, and occasionally some shots were ex- 
changed across the river; but no movement was made till 


the 1 3th of October. On the morning of that day, before 
daylight, about 1,000 militia-men and a few regulars were 
embarked at Lewiston and landed at Queenston, under 
command of Gen. Solomon Van Rensselaer. A small but 
resolute squad crowded up the side of the mountain some 
200 feet on their hands and knees, unobserved, and com- 
menced an attack in the rear of the batteries, driving the 
British down the road into the town. As fast as the forces 
crossed over they repaired to the top of the mountain and 
prepared for an attack from below. The British comman- 
der Gen. Brock who was then at Newark, seven miles 
away, gathered up a few light troops and arrived on the 
ground soon after daylight. At the head of a small force, 
with a flourish of his sword, he commanded an advance up 
the declivity, but before he had proceeded three rods he fell 
dead from his horse and in two minutes more his Aid, Col. 
McDonald, shared the same fate. This was the work of 
sharp-shooters. They then retreated, leaving the town and 
surrounding country in the hands of the invaders. 

Gen. Van Rensselaer, being slightly wounded, left the 
command with Gen. James Wadsworth, and re-crossed the 
river, endeavoring by all the means in his power to persuade 
the balance of the militia (about 3,000) to go forward and 
assist their brethren who had cleared the way. But no ; they 
had seen some blood in the boats which had returned with 
some of the killed and wounded, and claimed their constitu- 
tional rights not to leave their own soil. Some time in 
the afternoon could be seen from the heights on both sides 
of the river a long string of redcoats, slowly marching up 
from Newark and Fort George, under command of Gen. 
Sheaffe. They made a detour some two miles around and 
gained the top of the mountain. The last attack was then 
made, and in fifteen minutes the militia retreated, broke, 
and ran down the hill to the water's edge, where they sur- 
rendered. Some years after this a monument was erected 
on this battle-ground to the memory of General Brock. 

Under an impulse of curiosity the next morning I rode 
ten miles to view the results of this first conflict. In looking 


around I discovered, scattered here and there, about twenty 
men, stark naked and scalped, and many of them with the 
prints of the tomahawk driven into the skull. It seemed that 
a band of Indians after the battle was over had visited the 
ground to exercise their skill in that way. The bodies of 
these men, being then cold and stiff, were about being buried 
according to the rules of war, as I supposed. A trench had 
been dug about two feet deep, six feet wide, and twenty feet 
long. Three men would then take the body, two with a 
stick under the neck, one hold of the feet, carry it to the hole 
and pitch it in like a dead hog. I thought this was a pretty 
rough beginning. I then went to search for the men whom 
I supposed had been killed on the other side, but discovered 
only two bodies, which had been decently laid out in an old 
house. These, they claimed, were the extent of their loss, 
except General Brock and his aid. I then wended my way 
home, with many sad reflections on the barbarities of war. 

With some slight skirmishing the campaign for that year 
was closed on the Niagara river. During the winter the 
American flotilla on Lake Ontario had been augmented so 
as to be able to drive the British into their hiding-place at 
Kingston, besides concentrating an army of about 7,000 
regular troops at Sackett's Harbor. The command of this 
force was assigned to Gen. Dearborn, who had seen consid- 
erable service in the Revolutionary war. Under him were 
Governor Morgan Lewis, Generals Winder, Boyd, Chand- 
ler; also Colonel Scott, afterwards lieutenant-general. 

On the 27th day of April, 1813, the town of Little York 
(now Toronto), the then capital of Upper Canada, was cap- 
tured by the fleet and a detachment of 1,700 men, under com- 
mand of General Pike, who, with about 260 others, were 
either killed or wounded by the explosion of a magazine 
after the fort had surrendered. Although over forty miles 
away the cannon on that day were plainly heard. At that 
place a vast amount of property was carried off by the con- 
querors. The army and navy then recrossed the lake and 
took position near Fort Niagara, where the forces were 
concentrated, and on the 27th of May, under cover of thick 


fog, the army were landed from the fleet and boats on the 
beach of the lake about two miles below the mouth of the 
river. As soon as discovered the British made a sharp re- 
sistance, but in less than half an hour they were driven back, 
abandoning the town of Newark and the fort and in a few 
hours all the forces on the frontier as high up as Fort Erie, 
were on a brisk retreat towards the head of Lake Ontario. 
Why they were not pursued and captured has always re- 
mained a mystery. They were completely demoralized and 
scattered along the road for several miles, but they were per- 
mitted to retire, unmolested by any effort or movement to- 
wards their capture. 

After about a week, when the British troops had taken 
a position some forty miles away and well rested and for- 
tified, the American forces (near 7,000 strong) began the 
pursuit, under command of several generals. They arrived 
in the vicinity of the enemy's camp in about four days and 
encamped for the night, which proved to be dark and stormy. 
During the night a party of the British passed the pickets, 
made a rush for the quarters of the generals, and carried 
off Winder and Chandler before they got fairly waked up, 
and before the lines could be formed were out of reach. A 
retreat back to Newark was then commenced, where the 
whole army arrived the next day. The British followed up 
in a few days and surrounded the town. 

About this time a little episode occurred eight miles west 
of the great falls, at a place called the Beaver Dams. Col- 
onel Boerstler, with 500 regulars, two pieces of artillery, and 
a company of about thirty rangers from Buffalo, under com- 
mand of Dr. Cyrenius Chapin, were detailed from the camp 
at Newark to batter down a certain stone house, situated 
near the said Beaver Dams. When within about two miles 
of their destination, in passing a point flanked on three sides 
by timber, they were suddenly fired upon from almost every 
direction by a company of Indians, who were secreted and 
lying in wait to receive them. The colonel immediately 
wheeled into an open field and formed a line of battle. The 
Indians, in the meantime, kept up a brisk fire, accompanied 


by the savage war-whoop, nearly concealed from view. Soon 
a white flag was seen to emerge from the woods, carried by 
a British captain in uniform, who was met by the colonel 
and staff. They represented that a large force of soldiers 
lay near by, and demanded an unconditional surrender. 
After a short consultation with his officers the colonel agreed 
to lay down his arms on condition of having their lives pro- 
tected from the barbarities of the savages. After their arms 
were given up and taken away they found to their aston- 
ishment and mortification that their captors numbered but 
one small company of regulars and one or two hundred In- 
dians, hardly sufficient to guard them. They were sent 
round the lake by way of Kingston to Halifax. The sequel 
to this foolish affair was that Colonel Boerstler was never 
again heard of in the army ; and Colonel Chapin with a few 
of his rangers succeeded in capturing the guard who had 
them in custody while descending the lake in a boat, bring- 
ing them safely into camp at Newark as prisoners of war. 

The remainder of the summer was spent on that frontier 
in inactivity ; the American army cooped up in Newark and 
Fort George, and the British outside keeping watch of 
them. The siege was finally raised in October, after the 
capture of the British fleet on Lake Erie, and the defeat of 
Proctor on the Thames by Gen. Harrison. They fell back to 
their old position at the head of the lake to await further 

The lines being again opened, I took up my residence in 
Queenston on the Canada side. Here, with our next door 
neighbor, a Scotch loyalist, was Captain Barclay, late com- 
mander of the British fleet on Lake Erie, who had been cap- 
tured a few weeks before at Put-in-Bay by Commodore 
Perry. I saw him on the street about every day. He was a 
fine-looking man, and carried his arm raised upon a board, 
it being badly shattered in the recent fight. 1 have seen it 
frequently stated that he had lost an arm at Trafalgar under 
Lord Nelson but I think it was a mistake. 

In October a draft of 2,000 militia was made from West- 
ern New York to hold the Niagara frontier, and took posi- 


tion in the town of Newark, under General McClure. A 
great and foolish expedition had just been set on foot to 
capture Montreal. All the regular troops had been taken 
from the frontier, including the Western army under Gen- 
eral Harrison, leaving the whole line open without any de- 
fense, save the few militia whose time would soon expire, 
and about the first of December Newark was evacuated and 
the town, containing some 300 buildings, reduced to ashes. 
This was a work of vandalism which was dearly paid for, 
at a high rate of interest, soon after. General McClure was 
ever after held in detestation for the ruthless act by the 
people of both nations. 

About 100 regular soldiers, mostly invalids, had been 
left in Fort Niagara for its defense, under command of a 
Captain Leonard, who retired every night to a private resi- 
dence four miles out on the lake shore. The military strat- 
egy in this procedure of the captain is not very apparent at 
the present day, but was in keeping with a good share of the 
strange movements of that war. 

Thus stood matters till the night of the i8th December, 
when the British with their Indian allies crossed the river, 
passed the sentinels (if any there were), entered the gates 
and took possession of the old fort without firing a gun. 
They then sent a file of men down to the captain's quarters 
with a request that he appear at the fort without any un- 
necessary delay. He still holding to his previous notions 
that "prudence was the better part of valor," did not stand 
upon the manner of his going, but obeyed the summons 
forthwith. I think his name was never again heard of in 
connection with the military service. 

The Indians immediately took the line of march up the 
river, and arrived at the village of Lewiston about sunrise, 
where they found most of the people in their beds. The first 
warning they had of their danger was the Indian war-whoop 
as they emerged from a piece of woods which skirted the 
whole length of the town, and about thirty rods distant. 
The consternation that followed this sudden eruption of a 
savage foe, can hardly be imagined. Each one from instinct 


supposed their safety depended upon flight. It so happened 
that on this occasion the savage appetite for plunder out- 
weighed his appetite for blood. Therefore, they were so 
long detained at a few of the first dwellings that a large 
share of the people got well under way before pursuit com- 
menced. I think but one man and a woman were killed at 
this time. A Dr. Alvord, who was a cripple, attempted to 
mount his horse and ride away, but was shot. The ground 
was frozen and covered with a light snow. The main and 
almost only road that led from the town ran directly east, 
and was somewhat thickly settled; and as the alarm went 
far ahead of the main body, carried by a few who had the 
good luck to find horses, the inhabitants were instantly 
wheeling into line in front of those who first started. Three 
miles out, I with my father's family fell into the fugitive 
cavalcade. By this time the road was getting pretty well 
filled up with men, worn-en and children, horses, oxen, carts, 
wagons, sleds, in fine, everything that could facilitate the 
movement of women and children; and after filling up all 
these many were carried in the arms of those most able to 
endure fatigue. 

Very few of the vast throng thus suddenly thrown to- 
gether had eaten anything that morning. I well remember 
the breakfast that was on the table that morning as the 
frightened rider passed our door. The frying-pan went one 
way and the teakettle the other. The horses and sled were 
soon at the door feather beds, blankets, and whatever eat- 
ables were nearest at hand were hurled in, the women and 
children on top, and away they went over the rough and 
frozen ground. As the frightened procession advanced, its 
numbers increased, until neither end could be discovered by 
those in the center. It was supposed to be about five miles 
in length, resembling somewhat the serpentine movements of 
a huge black snake rendered more distinctly visible by the 
snow on the ground. 

There was no halt for the distance of about fifteen miles, 
except to cast an "anxious lingering look behind," to get 
the first glimpse of the savage foe, with his uplifted toma- 


hawk and bristling scalping-knife ; but he only followed on 
the trail for about three miles, securing the plunder and fir- 
ing the now deserted dwellings. There were, however, two 
of the red men more fearless than their fellows. Being 
mounted on fleet horses they followed in the rear for about 
five miles, and came up with two men, one of whom they 
shot, took his rifle and retreated, while the other escaped 
into the bush. These men both had their rifles pointed at 
the Indians, but concluded they were friendly as the Tus- 
corora tribe resided in that neighborhood took down their 
guns and awaited their approach until it was too late to re- 
trieve their mistake. 

As night approached the procession arrived at the forks 
of the roads (near where Lockport now stands) one leading 
to Batavia and the other to Rochester. Here some of the 
most weary, and perhaps the most courageous, bivouacked 
for the night finding shelter for the women and children 
as best they could, the men standing guard and putting 
themselves in the best position for defense ; while others 
again pursued their course to the right or the left. I took 
the road Leading to Rochester, and soon entered what was 
then called the Eleven-mile woods, there being then but one 
solitary house for that distance, seven miles of which was 
covered with a thick growth of timber, having only the small 
brush cut away just- sufficient to keep on the direction. At 
this juncture a brisk snowstorm set in but on, on wended 
the cavalcade, over a corduroy bridge laid down in the mud 
and water for the distance of about four miles, some, of 
course, occasionally giving out, but others pursuing the 
even tenor of their way the whole night. Somehow, at pres- 
ent unknown, I found myself on board an old ricketty 
wagon, drawn by a half-starved pair of ox-en, plodding along 
through the last seven miles, almost every minute in collision 
with a tree, first on one side and then on the other, constantly 
"hawing" and "geeing," as the cas-e might be. The next 
morning I found myself enjoying a quiet snooze at the east- 
ern end of the "woods" under a blanket, with nearly a foot 
of snow thereon. 


The Indians and redcoats tarried thereabouts for two 
days, reveling in whiskey and plunder, and then "departed 
for their own coast," carrying with them a few prisoners to 
their wigwams on Grand river. Among these was a man 
by the name of Phillips, who had resided in Canada about 
six months before the war commenced^ and had taken the 
oath of allegiance to His Majesty, while in his dominions. 
The first opportunity that was offered he left and became a 
soldier on the American side. Under these circumstances 
he concluded that his best chance for life would be to re- 
main with the Indians in as much privacy as possible. After 
arriving at their village many of the tribe became clamorous 
for the sacrifice of a Yankee, in propitiation for some of 
their braves who had recently been killed, and proceeded 
with all due ceremony to prepare the place of execution by 
bringing together all the pine limbs, knots and faggots, that 
were most convenient. Before they had time to carry out 
and execute their plans, however, some British officers made 
their appearance upon the ground, and by dint of entreaty 
they were induced to stay the savage procedure. The old 
chief took Phillips to his hut and set him to work, and find- 
ing him an expert at divers things, especially at making 
shoes, moccasins, etc., he soon became a favorite in the camp. 
After serving them in this manner for about three months, 
the chief proposed that he should marry a squaw, and even 
proposed his own daughter, and urged the proposition with 
so much tenacity that he concluded to let them know that 
he had a wife and children in Canada. This soon led to an 
arrangement whereby they were to liberate him for five 
gallons of whiskey and ten pounds of tobacco. Phillips soon 
found means of conveying the intelligence to his wife, who 
was then about forty miles from the place. After many dif- 
ficulties and hardships she procured the articles with which 
to pay the ransom and carried them to the Indian head- 
quarters on Grand river, and brought away her husband in 
safety. The following November, just at the close of the 
war, Phillips and his family crossed the lines and came to 
Buffalo, from thence to Ontario County, where he died at 


the age of ninety years. The woman above spoken of was a 
sister to the writer hereof. 

Sometime previous to this, General Drummond had taken 
command of the British army on this frontier, which had 
been reduced to about 1,500 regular troops, and took peace- 
able possession of the whole frontier from Niagara to Fort 
Erie. On the night of December 31 st they crossed the river at 
Black Rock, two miles below Buffalo, in the midst of a heavy 
snowstorm, and took up their march for the latter place. A 
small force of militia from the adjacent country had been 
speedily collected, and made a feeble attempt to impede their 
progress. A few shots were exchanged when the militia 
broke and sought safety by flight into the woods through a 
deep snow, and retired to their homes. At this time a body 
of the Mohawk tribe of Indians accompanied the British, 
who pursued the flying militiamen, overtook and scalped 
many. Early on the morning of the 1st day of January, 
1814, they entered the village of Buffalo, and quickly began 
the work of devastation ; and by noon of that day there was 
but one house left standing in the city and adjacent country. 
This was a small unpainted house located on Main Street, 
owned and occupied by a widow St. John, the mother of 
Dr. St. John of Willoughby. She had several blooming 
daughters, and they all made such a determined resistance 
that the Indians hesitated for a short time in applying the 
torch, and a guard was placed over it by the British officers. 
This old house remained a standing monument of that 
calamity for many years, but finally succumbed to the march 
of improvement. One woman was killed by the Indians 
while attempting to save her domicile. The Indians and a 
few soldiers remained in possession of the place two or three 
days, luxuriating on the plunder they had saved from the 
fire, and then retired across the river from whence they 
came. Several hundred buildings were destroyed, besides 
nearly -every other on the frontier. 

Early in the spring of 1814 operations commenced by 
raising and concentrating a new army at Buffalo for another 
descent upon Canada. To the command of this was appoint- 


ed Gen. Jacob Brown, who had the year before displayed 
much skill and intrepidity at the head of a small body of 
militia, hastily collected, defeating and driving back a much 
superior force of British regulars, who had made an attack 
upon Sackett's Harbor. Colonel Winfield Scott and Colonel 
Ripley, who had just been promoted to the rank of brigadier 
generals, took positions under General Brown. On the 3d 
day of July two brigades, a train of artillery, and a squad 
of the Seneca tribe of Indians, crossed the Niagara at Black 
Rock without resistance, captured Fort Erie, and took up 
their line of march down the river in pursuit of the enemy, 
and overtook them on the 5th, about one mile above the 
mouth of Chippewa creek. The whole British force were 
here found in line of battle, extending from the river back 
across a beautiful level plain, and not a hundred yards below 
a small, deep and impassable ravine, except over one narrow 
bridge, which the enemy had left standing, intending, as 
was supposed, to obstruct its passage with their artillery. 
But they soon discovered their mistake. Scott immediately 
pressed his brigade across the bridge with such rapidity, 
attended with such a slight loss, that the British were sur- 
prised and confounded. He then formed his line within 
eight rods in front of the enemy without firing a gun. The 
whole force were soon across the bridge and in line of battle. 
In the month of May I enlisted in a regiment of New 
York Volunteers, commanded by Colonel Swift, which 
concentrated and organized at the village of Batavia, forty 
miles east of Buffalo. On the 4th of July our regiment took 
up its line of march for the frontier, and at five o'clock we 
were within eight miles of Buffalo, about pitching our tents 
for the night, when the guns commenced rattling at Chip- 
pewa. Although twenty miles away the small arms were 
heard most plainly and distinct. This was a caution that we 
had better be again under way. After marching some time 
after dark we pitched our tents near the river. Next morn- 
ing we crossed over in scows and proceeded down the river, 
joining the main army under Gen. Brown near the battle- 
ground. The fight only lasted about half an hour, but was 


attended with most brilliant and decisive results. Our loss 
in killed and wounded was about 300; that of the British 
about 500. The British army was at this time commanded by 
General Riall, and this was his first trial of skill on Ameri- 
can soil. It was said that he had attained considerable no- 
toriety in India and on the Continent. From the battle- 
ground they made a precipitate retreat across the Chippewa 
creek, pulling up the bridge after them and taking refuge 
behind their batteries. 

Thus matters stood for two days, repairing damages and 
getting the wounded out of the way. Early on the morning 
of the 8th preparations were made for crossing the creek 
by sending out a small force some two miles up to make the 
attempt to construct a bridge to reach the enemy. But they 
thought it more prudent to be moving than to wait till the 
crossing was completed. Soon a cloud of dust was seen 
rising along the road some two miles off, caused by the rapid 
flight of the wagon trains of baggage, artillery and red- 
coats. No use for a bridge up there. Our army soon cen- 
tered at the old crossing-place, and by the aid of scows and 
some repairs on the bridge they were soon across and in hot 
pursuit. But no 'enemy was seen that day; they had left 
their camp kettles boiling and tables set. The next day 
His Majesty's forces were all safely ensconsed in Fort 
George, sixteen miles below. Our army followed them up, 
and after marching nine miles encamped upon the old battle- 
ground at Queenston Heights. Here we remained in a state 
of inactivity for the space of about two weeks, but for what 
reason I never heard any one express an opinion unless it 
was for the pleasure of viewing and enjoying from that 
lofty and picturesque eminence the scenery below, including 
the beautiful river to its mouth, the two forts, the country 
east and west for twenty miles, and nearly across Lake On- 
tario to Toronto. 

Here our regiment was augmented by a battalion of vol- 
unteers from Pennsylvania, and numbered about 1,000. We 
were well supplied with officers. We had General Peter B. 
Porter of Black Rock (who had a short time before agreed 


to take Canada for a breakfast spell), Gen. John Swift of 
Palmyra, N. Y., Col. Philetus Swift, Lieut. Colonel Dob- 
bins, Majors Lee and Mattison, and Brigade Inspector 
Stanton. A little episode of our campaign here occurred 
which cast a gloom over the whole division. General John 
Swift was a man of about seventy years of age, and had been 
attached to our corps without any special command, but as 
a sort of fearless, care-for-nothing guerilla, who took 
pleasure in nocturnal excursions along the lines of pickets, 
at great hazard and risk of life and limb. For his com- 
panions he would choose from ten to twenty from the ranks 
whom he thought would best subserve his purpose. He 
would set out after dark on foot, and away he would go in 
pursuit of some unwary sentinel or guards along the Brit- 
ish lines, from seven to ten miles off. On his third excur- 
sion he came to a farm house where were stationed a guard 
of about ten or more men. He immediately surrounded the 
house and rushed in, demanding an instant surrender. All 
but one threw down their guns, and as the general reached 
out his hand to take his, the fellow sprung back, brought up 
his gun and discharged it into his bowels. The soldier was 
instantly knocked down and brought to camp with the rest 
of the guard. The general was carried by his men about 
two miles, and left in a farm house with a single attendant. 
He soon after expired. Early the next morning a thousand 
men were dispatched to recover and bring in the body. This 
put an end to that kind of warfare. The soldier was tried 
next day by a court martial for murder, on the ground that 
he had fired after his surrender, but was acquitted. Our 
colonel went home with the body of his brother and did not 
again return, leaving the command of the regiment with 
Lieut. Colonel Dobbins. 

Here the army remained in camp about ten days, when 
it moved down the river and took position within a mile of 
the British lines and Fort George, with the intention, as all 
supposed, of an immediate assault of their works. But here 
again inactivity prevailed, and disappointment was the re- 
sult. We were supplied with light artillery and three heavy 


long i8-pounders, drawn by six horses each, which were 
said to have been captured from the British fleet on Lake 
Erie by Commodore Perry the year before. They were 
driven along with the army from Buffalo at great incon- 
venience and trouble, for the express purpose of battering 
down the enemy's works. 

It may be here observed that during this season the Brit- 
ish fleet had full control of Lake Ontario, in consequence 
of having built during the winter before several heavy armed 
ships, and driven ours into Sackett's Harbor. During the 
two days that our forces were preparing to make the final 
assault, Gen. Brown received intelligence that large rein- 
forcements of troops direct from England (including a regi- 
ment that they had hired, or borrowed, from Germany) had 
landed at the mouth of the river from the shipping, and 
were preparing to make the assault upon our lines. On the 
morning of the third day our tents were struck and our 
army put in motion on the back track to Queenston Heights, 
where we encamped for the night. The next day brought us 
back to Chippewa creek, which we crossed, and encamped 
just below the old battle-ground. After resting about 
twenty-four hours, our commanders concluded they would 
retreat no farther till they took a view of the pursuing foe 
and felt his strength. 

On the 25th day of July, just before sunset, General 
Scott, with the ist brigade of regulars, left camp and pro- 
ceeded down the river about one and a half miles, and ran 
right into the advance guard of the enemy, and immedi- 
ately opened fire with great fury and without waiting a 
moment for the balance of the army pushed forward, driv- 
ing the foe before them for about half a mile. In this first 
attack he lost heavily. At the first fire General Brown, 
with the 2d brigade under Ripley, the New York and Penn- 
sylvania Volunteers under General Porter, with all the dis- 
posable artillery, left camp on a double-quick march and 
proceeded to the support of Scott. By this time the whole 
British force had settled back and taken position in Lundy's 
Lane. This is a road which comes from the west, and in- 


tersects the river road at right angles, at a point directly 
opposite the great Falls, and about half a mile therefrom. 
About forty rods up the Lane to the west is a rise of ground 
probably about twenty feet higher than the adjacent parts, 
with a gradual slope in all directions. On this stood an old, 
small-sized, dilapidated meeting-house. Here the British 
had posted all their artillery, and were defending it against 
the foolhardy attack of Scott, when the reinforcements ar- 
rived. Here were the time and place, I suppose, where Gen- 
eral Brown asked Colonel Miller if he could drive the enemy 
from that height of ground, from whence they were dealing 
out such utter destruction to our lines. His reply, "I'll try, 
sir," was thereafter handed down through all the records 
and history of that memorable event in honor of the person 
who made it; for he did not only "try" but succeeded in 
capturing the position after a most desperate and bloody 
hand-to-hand fight with swords and bayonets. The artillery- 
men were nearly all slain while defending their guns. But 
in fifteen minutes the enemy had again rallied and drove our 
men from the heights; and three times was this bloody 
scene enacted, till that little spot was literally covered with 
dead bodies. We finally succeeded and held the ground 
from 10 to 12 o'clock, after the British had retired. 

It has always been a mooted question which side won the 
battle at Lundy's Lane. Our army was under the necessity 
of retiring to camp for water and provisions, as there were 
none upon the ground or in the immediate vicinity ; and 
the officers, men and horses were suffering terribly for the 
want thereof, as most of them had left camp just before sup- 
per with such haste that they carried nothing along. Thus 
the ground was relinquished for the time being, with the 
intention of again occupying it on the following morning. 
But the enemy got the start in that matter. Gens. Brown 
and Scott were both severely wounded, left the command to 
Gen. Ripley, and crossed the river the same night, leaving 
orders to renew the fight if practicable. 

Incidents : The night, although clear, was very dark and 
sultry. The battle was fought entirely from the light of the 


guns, the bursting of shells and skyrockets. Many ludi- 
crous -events and mishaps were produced by this state of 
things. Officers would frequently ride up to a squad of the 
enemy and take command, march and countermarch for 
some time, before they discovered their mistake. A colonel 
of one of our regiments rode up in front of the British line 
and sung out, "What regiment is that?" When a reply 
came in a loud tone of voice, "The Royal Scots." "Royal 
Scots, to the right face, march !" which they did, while the 
colonel took the opposite direction. A Captain Ketchum 
(ominous name), whether of his own volition or from 
orders, took an escort of some twenty picked men, made his 
way around the right flank of the enemy's line, and in the 
rear marched silently and quickly, in single file, toward the 
left flank. On his route he ran directly upon a small squad 
of British officers, who were standing beside their horses 
in consultation. They were instantly surrounded with guns 
and bayonets and ordered to march at a double-quick time 
and woe be to him who lingered, for he immediately felt the 
sharp point. The captain made no halt or enquiry till he 
had cleared the extreme left flank and entered our lines 
and then, to his delight and astonishment, he found that his 
prisoners were the British commander-in-chief, Gen. Riall, 
and his staff. For this act of bravery and sheer good 
luck, the captain was promoted, and the general retired to 
private life, and his name never again appeared in military 

In this bloody encounter our regiment suffered but a very 
slight loss, as its position was assigned on the extreme left 
flank of the line. A Captain Hooper, from Auburn, N. Y., 
was found missing and never after heard of. Our brigade- 
major, Stanton, with a few others, were taken prisoners. 
Adjutant Poe, of the Pennsylvania corps, was also killed. 
Our colonel, Dobbins, during the engagement received a 
spent ball in his bosom, and from the little smart it gave 
him thinking he was badly wounded turned his horse 
towards camp and rode about forty rods when the thought 
occurred to him that he might as well ascertain the exact 


state of affairs within, and after feeling around for some 
time could find neither blood or perforation, turned his 
horse about and rode back to his command. This caused 
some dry jokes among his fellow officers. 

The loss on each side was estimated at about 800; and 
taking into account the time occupied and the number en- 
gaged, had few parallels in modern warfare. I think the 
great share of the loss in killed and wounded was in Scott's 
brigade, which probably did not exceed 1,600 men, and 
which were foolishly driven with such impetuosity against 
the whole of the enemy of some 5,000. Instead of being 
promoted to the rank of major-general, as he was, for his 
conduct in that affair, greater justice would have been meted 
out by his being cashiered. He certainly showed himself 
utterly regardless of human life, and willing to make any 
sacrifice for his own personal renown. 

I was at this time officiating as cook for the regimental 
and staff officers, and my duties required my presence in the 
big tent, but was in a good position, by looking across a big 
bend in the river, to see and hear the terrible crash of arms 
by the light and sound thereof. At twelve o'clock the whole 
remaining force returned to camp and finished the repast 
they had so suddenly left five hours before. Worn down 
with extreme fatigue and hunger, all were soon asleep in 
their tents, except the few who were placed out on the picket 
guard. But their slumbers were of short duration. As the 
sun arose the next morning the long roll was sounded for all 
to fall into the ranks and answer to their names as the roll 
was called. Here was ascertained for the first time the num- 
ber absent and missing. I looked along the line of Scott's 
brigade for a few moments, and saw the wonderful thinning 
out of many of the companies, apparently reduced to a cor- 
poral's guard. But decimated as they were, the whole avail 
abl-e force was soon under way, with the intention of occupy- 
ing the ground left the night before. After proceeding 
about one mile they discovered that the enemy had full pos- 
session with a large force, and busily engaged in building 
large fires with rails, and burning the dead that had been 


left upon the field. Here was cremation put into practice 
on a large scale. Our army here came to a halt, and after 
viewing the situation and its surroundings, and holding a 
council of war, it was decided again that "prudence was the 
better part of valor," and all again returned to camp. In 
less than half an hour from that time the tents were all 
struck and the whole army under a quick movement up the 
river towards Fort Erie, where we arrived next morning, 
after encamping in the open fields at [opposite] Black Rock, 
and appeasing our hunger mostly on uncooked salt pork. 

Fort Erie was strengthened by long lines of breastworks 
and batteries, running parallel with the river, and some 
fifteen rods distant. The British forces soon made their 
appearance, surrounded the fort, and commenced the erection 
of batteries within one mile distant, which were pretty thor- 
oughly covered and protected by a thick growth of timber 
and underbrush. About the first of August they opened 
their batteries by a masterly display of shot, shell and rock- 
ets. These last were called Congreve rockets, after the 
name of their inventor, and went out of use soon after the 
termination of that war. They were constructed of a 
wooden tube, about four inches in diameter, three feet long, 
enclosed in strong iron bands, a small bombshell in one end, 
and filled with alternate layers of dry and wet powder, so 
that every little explosion kept the thing in motion till it ar- 
rived at its destination, when an explosion took place, scat- 
tering the whole into a thousand fragments. They were so 
elevated that they very much resembled a comet while pass- 
ing through the air on a dark night. They were frequently 
very destructive. One of them killed six horses that were 
hitched in the rear of the camp. 

Thus cooped up and unable to recross the river with 
safety, our army suffered terribly for the next forty-eight 
days. During the whole of this time, with slight intermis- 
sions, the cannonading was kept up on both sides, night and 
day. More or less were killed and wounded every day, not- 
withstanding the men were screened considerably by the 
throwing up of a large number of lateral breastworks. 


Thus operations continued till the I4th of the month, when 
the first attempt was made to storm the fort and its sur- 
roundings. The entire encampment extended up the lake, 
from the old stone fort, about one hundred rods, where a 
tower, some twenty feet in height, had been erected, called 
Towson's Battery, and in command of Major Towson. 
Their plan was to advance simultaneously at both ends and 
in the centre. Their advance was made on the upper works 
by some sailors and marines in boats from the lake, who pro- 
ceeded cautiously under the cover of darkness, with the in- 
tention of landing in the rear of the works; but they were 
discovered in time, and almost totally annihilated before 
they made a landing. The centre was so obstructed by 
fallen timber and brush-wood that nothing was there 
accomplished. At the lower end they pushed the troops with 
so much vigor and determination that they actually opened 
a passage to the top of the fort and were pouring in, driving 
our gunners from their posts, and for a few moments all 
seemed to be lost, when the magazine underneath suddenly 
exploded, sending more than 200 of the assailants into the 
air burned, killed, mangled and bruised in a most shocking 
manner. Thus ended the attack. The enemy quickly 
retreated to their old quarters, with a loss of about 400 men, 
leaving a large number of their wounded in our hands. 

A hospital for British prisoners had been established in 
Buffalo, and after our retreat from Lundy's Lane my father 
had been detailed and assigned to its charge, which may 
explain my being there as an assistant. This brought some 
fifty of the poor, miserable, mangled specimens of humanity 
into our immediate presence and care on the day following. 
Many were yet insensible, and unable to move a muscle, 
although nothing was visible to indicate their wounds. But 
the worst cases were those who had been burnt by the 
explosion of the powder magazine. Some of their faces and 
hands were so crisped that the skin peeled off like a baked 
pig. Among the rest was a boy about my age, whom I 
thought would survive with a little extra care and attention. 
I found him lying upon the floor, with a little straw scat- 


tered about, unable to point out the seat of his troubles, and 
concluded that I would make an effort to bring him up in 
which I happily succeeded in a few days. One poor fellow, 
with a marine dress, lay in a bunk near by, totally insensible 
to all his surroundings, and only able to move one leg, which 
he continued to draw up and down constantly for about 
three days, when he expired. He was a fine specimen of 
physical manhood, and had the mark of a musket-ball, which 
had just penetrated the skull. 

History or tradition hath but little to say about the cause 
of the blowing up of Fort Erie, whether by design or acci- 
dent. It took place at any rate at a very critical and oppor- 
tune time. I never heard that any officer avowed any par- 
ticipation in the transaction, and as no one ever knew who 
touched the fatal spark to the magazine, or laid the trail, I 
am inclined to the belief that the perpetrator of the deed was 
his own executioner. It was generally considered a just 
retaliation for the affair at Little York the year before. I 
have seen it stated that our loss was eighty-four and that of 
the assailants 900, but I think the latter was too high by 

This repelled assault and defeat seemed not to be much 
noticed by the besiegers, as their guns were in full play 
again as soon as they supposed their wounded were out of 
the way. A few days after General Gaines came and took 
command of the post. In about a week I took an opportun- 
ity to cross the lake from Buffalo, which is here four miles 
wide, to see how the war was progressing. On landing 
upon a smooth limestone rock, nearly an acre in size, the 
first thing that attracted my attention, while walking across 
this rock towards the encampment, was a round twelve- 
pound ball, striking a few yards from me and bounding 
away some half a mile farther into the lake and then 
another from the same direction, crashing like an explosion 
from beneath the rock. I began to think this was not a very 
eligible situation for any one who had much respect for his 
personal safety. On proceeding a little farther along, I 
saw a small bevy of officers emerging from a shattered 


wooden building, making their way toward the landing, one 
of whom was wounded and limping badly. I soon learned 
that it was Major-General Gaines. He immediately crossed 
the lake and did not return again during the war. I passed 
on to the building and had the curiosity to look in. The 
floor and inside were shivered to atoms, and the furniture 
and debris covered with dirt. I was told that the general 
and his staff were sitting around the dinner table when a 
shell came down through the roof, through the table into 
the ground and there exploded. My curiosity was by this 
time quite satisfied, as may well be supposed, and after 
tarrying about an hour I followed the general back to Buf- 

The situation of our little army, which still lay cooped up 
in Fort Erie, was every day becoming more critical, and ex- 
cited the greatest solicitude throughout the country. A 
crisis finally arrived that called forth all the sympathies and 
patriotism of Western New York. By order of Gov. Tomp- 
kins a heavy draft was now made upon all the militia in 
that portion of the State, and about 3,000 were soon in 
Buffalo. But now the great question arose, how were they 
to be made available to any useful purpose? There was no 
authority to take or send them across the lines against their 
will or consent, and to obtain this much skill and tact were 
required. Accordingly, they were all paraded in line and 
volunteers called for. Several of the most prominent of 
the officers among whom was Gen. Peter B. Porter rode 
along in the front, making the most urgent appeals to their 
manhood and love of country to cross the river and rescue 
those who were in such imminent peril. A line was soon 
formed on the opposite side by volunteers, which was con- 
stantly augmented by those more courageous than their fel- 
lows. Then, again, there would be a stand-still till the offi- 
cers gave a few more lectures in front and thus the num- 
ber continued to increase for the best part of a day, until 
there were only about a hundred left who were unwilling to 
cross. These volunteers crossed the river or lake the same 
night, armed and equipped. They were drilled some ten 


days before they were called to a test of their courage and 

By this time Gen. Brown had so far recovered from his 
wounds that he appeared again and took command of the 
army in Fort Erie; and by the I7th day of September plans 
were so far matured that a sortie was to be made with a 
determination to raise the siege. Accordingly in the after- 
noon of that day three columns were marched out and made 
direct for the batteries, which were scaled and silenced with 
the greatest alacrity, sweeping around and putting them all 
to flight. Then commenced a desperate running fight, 
mostly in small broken squads on both sides, through the 
timber and brush. In this kind of skirmishing our back- 
woods militia-men had a very decided advantage over the 
British forces, who at this point seemed to be composed in 
a great measure of Germans, who had been sold or hired 
out as fighting machines, by some of the petty sovereigns 
in Europe. Many of them threw away their arms, and in 
their attempts to run would fling themselves full length 
upon the ground, quite willing and anxious to be taken 
prisoners. A great many personal exploits and adventures 
were related among that day's doings. The fight was of 
short duration, but was prolific of grand results, compared 
to the numbers lost on both sides. The British soon gath- 
ered their scattered forces and again made their way back 
to Chippewa, leaving all their siege-guns in our hands. 

This would have ended the war on that frontier but for 
the arrival of Gen. Izard, with about 5,000 regular troops 
from Pittsburgh, about the 1st of November. They had 
been on the march for over three months for what purpose 
I never heard explained. It may be set down in the cata- 
logue of follies occurring in that war. This reinforcement 
crossed the river and went to Chippewa to look after the 
whereabouts of the enemy. A slight skirmish ensued, and 
finding the enemy rather obstinate and not disposed to move 
along any farther, and thinking it about time to seek win- 
ter quarters, our whole force left the Canada side, bringing 
along all their munitions of war and public property. 


In December following a treaty of peace between the two 
countries was perfected and signed at the city of Ghent in 
Flanders, by five commissioners, who had been sent out a 
few months previous, to wit: John Quincy Adams, Henry 
Clay, Richard Rush, Wm. H. Crawford, J. A. Bayard, and 
two on the part of England. But owing to the tardy man- 
ner of communicating intelligence in those days it was not 
known till some time after the great battle of New Orleans 
had been fought, on the 8th of January, and the British 
army defeated with great slaughter. 

"Now was the winter of our discontent 
Made glorious by the men of Ghent." 

A new epoch in my existence was now about to open up, 
and about a year after the close of the war I began to think 
more seriously of my prospects and course of life. I had 
arrived at an age although at that time too poorly appre- 
ciated when all those just germing into manhood must 
begin to cast around in order to light upon some occupation 
which appears most suitable to their physical and mental 
capacities. How often do young men pass these few years 
of their lives in idleness and a total unconcern of what they 
are to be, or can be, when they are thrown upon the world 
under the necessity of a total reliance upon their own re- 
sources. I had read the life of Benjamin Franklin, and 
learned how and by what means he had wrought his way 
from a candle-maker to be the greatest philosopher of his 
age, by the most rigid economy and perseverance and the 
little light acquired in a printing-office. Well, I one day 
found myself in the then small town of Buffalo, on Main 
Street, with two shillings in my pocket, with here and there 
a scattering house not reading the sign-boards with a loaf 
of bread under my arm, as did Franklin in the streets of 
Philadelphia, for they were too few and far between but I 
did see one which read "Printing Office." It had a small 
book store on the ground floor, where I concluded it would 
be no intrusion to enter ; and after sticking a cigar in my 
mouth a good deal after the fashion of Young America 


now-a-days, which I have ever since looked upon as one 
of the silliest acts of my boyhood days I boldly ma'de 
my first step toward becoming a Ben. Franklin. This 
proved to be the place where the Buffalo Gazette was 
published, the same old paper that I had been reading 
before the war, and brought to our door by the famous 
Mr. Drinkwater, heretofore mentioned. It was the first 
paper started west of Canandaigua, or on the borders of 
Lake Erie, and during the troubles on the border was 
published fourteen miles to the eastward. After ma- 
neuvering around for some time I ventured to enquire if 
they wanted an apprentice? After some hesitation, and 
taking a view of my caliber and physique, replied that they 
did. This was rather flattering to my pride (if I had any) 
and Ben. Franklin again popped into my mind, as I had 
formed an idea that it required something far above the 
common race of mortals to become a printer more espe- 
cially as old Faust, the first inventor of type, had been 
charged by the Pope with being in league with the devil. 
But I had good reasons afterward to greatly modify my 
ideas on that point. Suffice it to say that I soon entered 
into an agreement to give my time and attention to their in- 
terests for the term of four years, at an annual stipend of 
forty, fifty, sixty and eighty dollars per year. 

The proprietors of this paper were two brothers who had 
graduated from the office of the Ontario Repository, then a 
pioneer paper. Their names were Sniith H. and Hezekiah 
A. Salisbury, both practical printers. The eldest was a 
pretty shrewd business man, and a good editorial writer. 
He severed his connection with the paper in the spring of 
1818, and the name of the paper was changed to that of 
Buffalo Patriot, and some years afterwards the Daily Com- 
mercial Advertiser emanated from the same establishment, 
which is continued to this day. Smith H. Salisbury was 
not successful in business, and died in Rochester at the age 
of about fifty. Hezekiah held a connection with the paper 
for many years ; was frugal, honest, and upright in all his 
dealings with others, and continued in laborious toil to quite 


an advanced age. Guy H. was an only son of the elder 
Salisbury, was a fine writer, edited the Commercial Adver- 
tiser for some years, and finally fell a victim to the intoxi- 
cating cup. 

The paper had then a circulation of about 1,000, and the 
time occupied in striking off this edition was two days with 
two hands at the press. The same amount of work in these 
days is done in two hours. I was assigned to this branch of 
the business with another boy of about my age. Our press 
was after the old pattern used in the days of Franklin, with 
a short screw and lever, and printed one page at each pull 
and, therefore, required four solid jerks to every sheet. We 
took turn about at the lever for each ten quires of paper on 
one side i. e., one put the ink upon the type while the other 
took the impression. The present generation of printers 
would be greatly amused to witness the manner of inking 
the type in those days. We made two balls of wool, covered 
with green sheepskin, about the size of a man's head. To 
these were attached perpendicular handles, and after apply- 
ing the ink to the outer surface each page of the type was 
briskly struck eight or ten times. The present mode of 
applying the ink by means of rollers, made of glue and mo- 
lasses, came into vogue about the year 1830. 

At this time post coaches were run from Albany to Buf- 
falo twice a week, carrying the mails. From thence west- 
ward mail-bags were carried on horseback only, up to 1820. 
Early in the year of 1816 a second paper was started in Buf- 
falo by David M. Day, called the Buffalo Journal. Late in 
the season of this year a printing-press was pioneered forty- 
five miles farther west, and the Chautauqua Gazette was 
started by James Percival and James Hull, at the village of 
Canadaway, then containing about fifty houses. It took its 
name from the Indian name of the creek which runs through 
the town. But on the advent of a newspaper the people 
thought a new name for their town was imperatively 
demanded, and consequently a meeting was called and by a 
vote it was christened Fredonia which name it retains 


"even unto the present day." Mr. Percival remained con- 
nected with the paper but a few weeks when he relinquished 
his interest to his partner. 

In March, 1817, I was sent on to assist in the printing of 
this paper, where I remained seven months, and returned to 
Buffalo. In our office here our associates were John 
Whitely, a journeyman, and two apprentices, named Snow 
and J. J. Daly. Whitely was a soldier in the 4th Regiment, 
U. S. Army; was at the battle of Tippecanoe under Gen. 
Harrison, and was discharged at the close of the war. He 
was a gutter drunkard, and died in a short time. Daly was 
a fine jovial chap of Irish descent ; afterwards was engaged 
in mercantile business, and died in Cleveland. In the spring 
of 1818, by a change of proprietors of the paper I was re- 
leased from my engagement as an apprentice, but continued 
in the office during the summer. 

In August of this year I was present at Black Rock and 
saw the first steamboat launched that entered the waters of 
Lake Erie. It was called Walk-in-the-Water, and was a 
memorable event of that day. At this time there was no 
harbor at Buffalo of sufficient depth of water for a craft of 
that size, and owing to the crude manner of constructing 
engines at that time, she had very great difficulty in getting 
up the river into the lake, consequently she was obliged to 
wait for a "horn breeze," as the sailors term it ; by hitching 
on eight or ten pair of oxen by means of a long rope or cable, 
together with all the steam that could be raised, she was 
enabled to make the ascent. Sometimes the cable would 
break and the craft float back to the place from whence she 

In September of this year I was engaged for one month 
in Erie, Penna., to assist in putting in operation the first 
newspaper in that town, entitled the Erie Gazette, by Mr. 
Ziba Willes. Sometime previous to this, however, I think a 
paper had been issued there called the Genius of the Lakes, 
and printed on a sheet of foolscap, but had been discon- 
tinued. I never saw but one number of that remarkable 


Genius. I therefore set up most of the type for the first 
number of the Erie Gazette, which I believe is still flourish- 
ing, under many improvements and transformations. 2 

2. Mr. Howe's references to the early newspapers of Erie are not quite 
accurate. Erie's first newspaper was the Mirror, started in May, 1808, by 
George Wyeth, and published for some two years. In 1813 appeared the 
Northern Sentinel, established by R. J. Curtis, who in 1816 changed its name 
to Genius of the Lakes. The Erie Patriot, begun in 1818 by Zeba Willis, was 
published about a year and then moved to Cleveland; Sanford's "History of 
Erie County, Pennsylvania," says that Mr. Howe was connected with this 
paper. The Gazette was established in 1820 and had a long career, finally 
being sold to the Erie Dispatch in 1890. It was separately published, how- 
ever, as the Erie Sunday Gazette until 1894, when it was discontinued, the 
weekly edition of the Dispatch being thereafter styled the Dispatch-Gazette. 
In 1897 this again became the weekly Gazette, only to be discontinued in the 
fall of 1899. The Sunday edition of the Dispatch, begun in August, 1903, is 
still called the Gazette edition of the Dispatch. The Gazette for well-nigh 
three quarters of a century was the leading newspaper of northwestern Penn- 
sylvania; Horace Greeley was employed on it for a time in his early years. 





It is with real reluctance and under many disadvantages 
that I undertake to place among the records of your society 
a sketch of Guy H. Salisbury. It is my misfortune that I 
scarcely knew the man until after his life had sustained a 
mortal shock of disaster. I must paint him, so to speak, 
from photographs and 1 post-mortem casts, and reconstruct 
the character that you knew from the wreck of it that was 
known to me. But I shall make the sketch, trusting that 
some fitter hand will finish the portrait. I shall at least 
show that in the gallery of our city's men of mark, it is 
entitled to a place of prominence. 

In the first or second year of the present century there 
came from remote Rhode Island to the village of Canan- 
daigua, in this State, a family of Salisburys. The patriarch 
of the household was John Salisbury, a man of English 
descent, and at the time of his migration to this far West 
about forty-three years old. He 'had been twice married 

i. Published in the Buffalo Courier, March n, 1871. Revised by David 
Gray, for the Buffalo Historical Society, in 1887, the year before his death. 


and already had had ten children, seven being those of his 
first wife. Eight more were afterwards born to him in Can- 
andaigua. The fourth son of the first series was Smith H. 
Salisbury, who must have been a youth of sixteen when the 
family moved from Rhode Island. This youth learned the 
printing business in the office of the pioneer printer of West- 
ern New York, James D. Bemus, and, a year or two after 
he had passed out of his teens, he married a Canandaigua 
girl named Nancy Hyd r e. I have not learned the precise 
date of this marriage, but this I know, that the gift Nancy 
gave to her husband in Canandaigua, on Christmas morning 
of the year 1811, was a baby named Guy Hyde Salisbury, 
her first-born. 

A few months before this interesting event, Smith H. 
Salisbury, and his next younger brother, Hezekiah A., 
started westward to seek their fortunes, and landed in Buf- 
falo. Both were practical printers and both, in the Ontario 
Repository of Mr. Bemus, had caught the infection of jour- 
nalism. They found Buffalo a rising village of 500 inhabi- 
tants and no newspaper. In October, 1811, accordingly, 
they started the Buffalo Gazette, with the exception of a 
little sheet in Batavia, the first paper published in the State 
of New York west of Canandaigua. The Salisbury brothers 
brought with them a stock of stationery and, in connection 
with their printing-office, opened a small store which after- 
wards became a book store, of some importance in our early 
history. The first numbers of the Gazette were largely 
indebted to this stationery business for the advertising pat- 
ronage which helped to fill their columns. 

I cannot discover exactly how old was the little Guy 
when his mother followed her husband and brought him to 
Buffalo. Indeed, the first trace I can get of him after his 
Christmas advent is on the road from Buffalo back to Can- 
andaigua. This is in February, 1813, when, on account of 
the war troubles on the frontier, doubtless, the mother and 
child appear to have retired to the security of the village 
whence they came. A letter written by the husband to his 
wife a few days after this hegira, enquires anxiously how 


the latter had got on on the road and "how pretty little Guy 
is." I infer that a good part of the years of the war was 
spent by Mrs. Salisbury and her babe at Canandaigua, for 
Buffalo was not a place, in the years 1813 and 1814, to which 
a young husband could with much comfort bring his young 
family. Indeed, in December, 1813, the brothers Salisbury 
found it politic themselves to leave Buffalo, and while the 
British were applying the torch to the infant settlement, the 
Salisburys' Gazette was safely surveying and reporting the 
scene from the heights of Harris Hill, near Williamsville. 
The paper was published at that locality for some time, and 
the chronicles of the time say that tremendous editions, con- 
taining the "war-news" of the frontier, were printed and 
mailed from the temporary office. A tradition survives that 
Smith's friend, Stephen K. Grosvenor, was wont to throw 
off his broadcloth coat and work like a beaver mailing 
papers, on publication days, in order to secure the company 
of the publisher for the regular whist party of the evening. 

In 1815 the Buffalonians had rallied and rebuilt their 
burnt homes, and the Salisbury family, as well as newspaper, 
were reestablished in the rehabilitated village. Among its 
half-rural scenes, which have since been obliterated by the 
streets of a great city, Guy's childhood was spent. His 
recollections of this period were vivid and happy. After 
fifty years of checkered life he looked back at it and wrote 
in this strain : 

"Haven't I made dirt pies with the other boys on the 
common where St. James Hall 2 now is hoed potatoes and 
corn on the lot where the Arcade 3 stands went swimming 
in Buffalo creek, where Main-street bridge now crosses, 
without fear of any N. F. P.'s 4 slid down hill on the Ter- 
race when it was such a high, steep bluff that our sleds didn't 
stop going till they got where the Erie canal now runs 
waded across Buffalo harbor, on the sand-bar, until Judge 
Wilkeson stopped that fun by driving piles to open the chan- 

2. East end of Iroquois Hotel site. 

3. Mooney-Brisbane building, Main and Clinton streets. 

4. Niagara Frontier Police. 


nel ? Haven't I pattered along, bare- foot, in the tracks made 
by the broad tires of the big Pennsylvania wagons, with 
eight horses and a leader, that brought all the eastern goods 
to our merchants till 'Clinton's Ditch' was made?" 

Among the companions of his sports in those childish 
days was James C. Harrison, son of the first Collector of 
the Port. The Salisbury office and dwelling were in the 
square now occupied by the Arcade and other buildings, and 
on the Court House hill adjoining, 5 as he used to tell, he and 
young James used to play, making mud forts in summer 
and "coursing down hill" on their sleds in the winter. There 
were no fences, even, in the way, in those days, and the 
"run" was a good long one. 

It was in the midst of this happy time, when little Guy 
was about ten years old, that his parents took him to St. 
Paul's Church, and the Reverend Deodatus Babcock, the 
second rector of that noble parish, sprinkled, as he says him- 
self, upon his "unworthy head the holy waters of baptism." 
Rev. Dr. Shelton has kindly looked up for me the records 
of this ceremony, which fix as its date the Qth of September, 
1821. In that same year Guy's mother, a patient, dutiful, 
saintly woman, was- confirmed by Bishop Hobart and became 
a communicant of St. Paul's. "I worshipped in that church 
in those days," wrote Guy long after, "but my most effective 
achievements in the gospel line were in the Sunday school, 
up gallery, at the east end of the church. I could rattle 
off the verses like a parrot and, I fear me, knew as little 
of their beauty and meaning as the parrot would." Through 
all his life, however, and amid his various spiritual wander- 
ings, Guy preserved a thorough acquaintance with the Scrip- 
tures ; a genuine respect for religion and all its manifesta- 
tions, and a lively if not profound religious' feeling. I can- 
not be wrong in referring these facts to the influence of his 
pious mother and that old St. Paul Sunday school. 

Smith H. Salisbury edited the Gazette till January, 1818, 
when he sold out his share to William A. Carpenter, and be- 

5. Site of the Buffalo Public Library. The Harrison home was at the 
northeast corner of Washington and Batavia streets, now Broadway. 


took himself to less irksome business pursuits. Smith 
seems to have transmitted a good deal of his nature to his 
son Guy. He was talented but unsteady, and he had that 
curious craving Guy afterwards displayed : when he was in 
a newspaper to get out of it, and when out of it as soon as 
possible to get in again. 

It was in 1825 that journalism again sucked Smith H. 
into its vortex. At that time Black Rock fully believed 
itself to be a good length ahead of Buffalo in the race for 
commercial supremacy, and Smith took stock in its fair pros- 
pects to the extent of purchasing the Black Rock Gazette. 
In the outer office of this paper Guy took up the composing- 
stick and learned to be a practical printer. He had begun 
his connection with journalism as a carrier boy, and it was 
his boast at the Franklin festivals of after years that he had 
held every post in a newspaper office, from lowest to high- 
est, except that of printer's devil. 

While he was thus engaged, however, his intellectual 
nature was rapidly developing and with some interruptions 
he attended school. His advantages in this respect had been 
very ordinary, but he was ever eager to make the most of 
them. I hear of him at several of the city's primeval seats 
of learning, public and private, and at all the agility of his 
mind seems to have been noticed. But more prominent still, 
perhaps, was his retiring disposition his almost girlish sen- 
sibility and bashfulness. I fancy that two circumstances 
contributed in his youth to intensify this one of his charac- 
teristics. In the first place, while quite a small boy, a fall 
sustained in a wrestling match with a companion inflicted a 
severe injury on his knee, so that ever afterwards he was 
slightly lame and walked with a cane. Secondly, he suffered 
from what in juvenile circles used to be considered an irre- 
parable misfortune, if not disgrace he had red hair. The 
young Buffalonian of the period had no mercy on either of 
these peculiarities, and was only too happy on every apt 
occasion to take advantage of the weak limb or to startle 
its timid owner by the sudden information that his head 
was on fire. Covered with mortification and a conscious- 


ness of his unpardonable physical defects, Guy would 
shrink within himself and add another thickness to his 
shell of shame-facedness. I think it is scarcely correct to 
say that he outlived this excessive sensibility, for instead 
of its disappearance I have rather to note its transmu- 
tation into that exquisite delicacy of feeling, that modesty 
of manner and absence of self-assertion which were among 
Guy's peculiar charms. 

Dr. White, who was a school-fellow with Guy at the 
school of Peter Miles, tells me that as a lad of fourteen to 
sixteen, he was one of the foremost scholars. Shy and 
retiring in his manners, he was nevertheless alert and clever 
in all his studies. Of his associates at Miles' school I have 
recovered the names of Morton Taintor, Austin and Le 
Grand St. John, J. G. White, Deloss Bliss and Miles Joy. 
There are doubtless others, living in the city. But before 
this time Guy had contracted an undying friendship and ad- 
miration for Cyrenius C. Bristol. There is something 
infinitely touching to me in the constancy with which Guy to 
the last cherished this sentiment. The men were in nearly 
every respect unlike, having only the one point in common, 
that both were dreamers. But Bristol's visions were dark 
and Dantesque, while Guy built his of sunshine. Disap- 
pointment made the one a misanthrope, but only rendered 
more inveterate the cheerful, loving, visionary habit of the 
other. Yet the sunny Guy had the most intense appreciation 
of the gloomy peculiarities of his friend, and, though it cost 
him something in various ways, to the end believed in and 
loved him. 

A good many years of Guy's youth he lived with his fam- 
ily in a house which his father had built, at the corner of 
Court and Pearl, and which is now occupied by Mrs. B. A. 
Manchester. A large brick arch built as the substruction of 
a chimney of this dwelling, was somehow converted by 
Guy into a miniature stage and became the scene of much 
youthful drama. Long after, when the building had been 
reconstructed and the histrionic arch enclosed in its base- 
ment part, Guy used to beg permission to go down cellar and 


survey again the spot where he and Bristol and Jack Lar- 
zelere had been wont to "spout Shakespeare." 

One other little incident connected with this house, to 
show the tender, sentimental nature of my subject: When 
in the course of human events it became proper to supersede 
the old-fashioned knocker on the front door and place a bell 
in its stead, I am told that Guy earnestly asked leave to 
carry away the knocker ; so instead of going for old iron it 
passed into Guy's museum of sacred relics. 

Unfortunately for Smith Salisbury, the ambitious hopes 
of Black Rock culminated and collapsed shortly after he had 
established himself as its Gazetteer. As the chief mission 
of the Gazette had been to wage on the part of Black Rock 
a voluminous war with Buffalo on the harbor question, the 
decay of the long dispute left it almost without any excuse 
for being, at least in that locality. In 1827, accordingly, Mr. 
Salisbury removed to Buffalo, and his paper became the 
Buffalo and Black Rock Gazette. In April of the year fol- 
lowing Wm. P. M. Wood started the pioneer Democratic 
paper of this county, under the name of the Buffalo Repub- 
lican. In September of that year 1828 the Republican 
passed into Smith Salisbury's hands and the Buffalo and 
Black Rock Gazette, which he also owned, died to bequeath 
its small modicum of life to the new enterprise. 

It was in this paper the Republican that Guy made 
his debut as an editor. Many years afterwards, when his 
political consistency had been called in question, he made a 
confession of faith wherein this first essay of his as a jour- 
nalist is alluded to. "I claim to be a Radical Democrat," he 
wrote. "My first editorials were written during the great 
contest of 1828, when Andrew Jackson was elevated to the 
Presidency by the Democrats of the nation. In that struggle 
my unpracticed pen essayed to aid the efforts of the little 
band of Democrats who stood up in Erie County in behalf 
of their principles. In 1829, I was for a time at the age 
of seventeen editor of the old Buffalo Republican, the orig- 
inal Democratic paper in this county. From that period 1 I 
continued to advocate the Democratic faith by tongue, pen 


and vote, until the removal of the deposits by President 
Jackson, in 1834." 

I may sum up, at this point, all that is necessary to be 
put on record touching Guy's subsequent political life. He 
boldly opposed the removal of the deposits referred to, and 
in consequence became somewhat alienated in feeling from 
his Democratic associates. This led him, when a good 
opportunity occurred some years later, to form a connection 
with the leading Whig journal of the county, and to act for 
some years with the Whig party. Emerging from that asso- 
ciation, however, he was soon found hurrahing for Tyl-er as 
stoutly as any Democrat of them all, and he stuck to the 
Democracy thereafter, through thick and thin, to the end 
of the chapter. 

I left Guy a few pages back "spouting Shakespeare" in 
the chimney arch, and revealed him to you next seated on 
the editorial tripod. This transition from boy's play to 
.man's work may well seem abrupt, but it was actually effect- 
ed in Guy's life just as suddenly as in my narrative. Those 
who were in the habit of dropping into his father's office in 
1828-9, could not help noticing "Little Guy," as he was 
called, but they did not really suspect him of holding any 
literary character in the establishment. A slender, shrink- 
ing, shame-faced youth, as Mr. Steele describes him to me, 
he would as soon have pleaded guilty to sheep-stealing as 
writing editorials. Yet, by and by, it came to be known 
that this and that and the other article which the good folks 
of Buffalo were allowed a week to peruse and criticise in 
the columns of the Republican, was actually the production 
of his pen. Further, that already he was in the habit of 
"dropping into poetry," and that sundry pieces of verse 
recently published were likewise his. People were aston- 
ished, but thenceforth followed the slim figure of the bashful 
boy with their respect. He was getting ready to be the 
young city's laureate. 

But Guy's active career, thus auspiciously begun, was 
soon to be clouded and interrupted. Early in the year 1830 
his mother died, the record of her burial in St. Paul's 


Church dating February I5th. The same year, his father, 
grown restless again, sold out his paper to Henry L. Ball and 
made his last exit from journalism. Meantime Guy had 
fallen into ill health. He appears to have left Buffalo in the 
year of his mother's death (1830), and by his contributions 
to the press we trace him first to Rochester. I believe he was 
for a time connected with one or more journals in that city ; 
at any rate we find him writing the "Carrier's Address" of 
the Rochester Craftsman for New Year's, 1831, and during 
that year he writes a number of poems for the Gem and 
other Rochester publications. It was in this period of feeble 
health and clouded prospects that he seems to have experi- 
enced his first spiritual trial. A scrap of paper, dated, "Fall 
of 1830," which has been put in my hands, tells the story. 
A few unfinished verses are scribbled upon it, at the bottom 
of which, in a more mature handwriting, is the sentence: 
"Written with the blight of infidelity upon my soul." But 
his faith evidently rallied again soon after, for in 1831 he 
writes a poem on "Happiness," of which the following is 
a sample stanza : 

Then look above for happiness, 

No longer seek below, 
Amid this world's vain emptiness 

Her dwelling-place to know. 
Tis but above 'tis but above 

Her blissful realm is found ; 
And there her faithful followers rove 

On pure and holy ground : 
Then let us spurn earth's golden toys 

And strive for those eternal joys. 

Nothing could be more eminently proper than this. 

Trouble kept crowding poor Guy. Jan. 24, 1832, his 
father died, leaving six children younger than Guy and 
nothing to support them. The children were named, in the 
order of their ages, Frank, John, Charles (afterward the 
actor), William, Annette and Nancy. The last two alone 
survive. Annette, Guy's favorite sister, is Mrs. Harris, the 
wife of a Methodist clergyman somewhere in Central New 


York; Nancy is a Mrs. Steadman, a widow in Newark, 
New Jersey. Immediately after his father's death Guy 
removed, sick and low-spirited, to Canandaigua, where he 
found a home with his good-hearted half-uncle Amasa. His 
brothers and sisters were billeted round among their various 
relatives, Uncle Amasa taking the heavy -end of the burden. 

Again we follow our friend Guy by his poetical trail in 
the newspapers. His health was slow in reestablishing itself, 
and though he had hoped to be able to go to work in the 
summer of 1832, it was the spring or summer of 1834 be- 
fore he left the hospitable asylum his uncle had given him. 
Once during this time he evidently passed some distance into 
the Valley of the Shadow, for one of his contributions to 
the Gem, dated June, 1832, confidently predicts his speedy 
decease. The Gem editor prefixes a note in which he char- 
acterizes the lines as "the knell of an expiring genius," and 
remarks that their author "has been for some time on a 
decline and we have feared that he would pass away early." 

These dismal premonitions were brilliantly dispelled. On 
the ist of January, 1835, under the name of the Buffalo 
Commercial Advertiser and from the office of the Patriot, 
issued the first daily paper published in this city, and Guy 
H. Salisbury was announced as its editor, his uncle Hez-e- 
kiah being the proprietor. The latter, more persevering 
than his brother Smith, had held on to the old aboriginal 
Gazette and made a thrifty business of it. In 1819 he bought 
out the share which Carpenter had bought from Smith H. 
and changed the paper's name to the Niagara Patriot, Upon 
the organization of the County of Erie a further change of 
title left it the Buffalo Patriot. From this office, then, with 
a modest invocation of the good-will of his readers, Guy 
launched forth the first Buffalo daily. 

But poor health, assisted a little perhaps by his natural 
versatility of disposition, again assailed Guy, and in Sep- 
tember, 1835, we find him out of the paper and enjoying 
rural felicity, interspersed by the occasional composition of 
verse, at Franklinville. Next summer, however, he returns 
to the Commercial office. His old friend and fellow-printer, 


Bradford A. Manchester, had in the meantime purchased a 
half interest in the establishment, and on the ist of July, 
1836, Hezekiah A. Salisbury disposed of the other half to 
Dr. Foote and his nephew Guy. These three conducted the 
business and published their daily and weekly unchanged, 
till August, 1838, when Captain (now Colonel) Almon M. 
Clapp marched from Aurora, surrendered his Standard to 
the Patriot, and became one of the editors and proprietors 
of the joint concern. Within a few weeks, however, Mr. 
Manchester withdrew and the office was carried on by the 
remaining partners under the firm name of Salisbury, 
Foote & Co., until May, 1839. Then ensued another change, 
Elam R. Jewett buying out Messrs. Salisbury & Clapp and 
adding to the Patriot the name and prestige of his Buffalo 

Thus ended another of Guy's brief sojourns in news- 
paperdom. Although he had supplemented his journalistic 
efforts by pretty extensive operations in real estate, which 
of course got him into pecuniary trouble in the crash of 1836, 
the three years of its duration had been happy ones. They 
comprised the golden period of his courtship and marriage. 
On the ist of August, 1837, he had married, at Sheldon, 
Wyoming County, Alta W. Chipman, daughter of Judge 
Lemuel Chipman of that place. Notwithstanding its bitter 
issue I can say, without fear of contradiction, that the match 
was one of genuine love on either side. Furthermore, it 
was founded on the principle of the affinity of opposites. 
Young Mrs. Guy, when she appeared first in Buffalo, im- 
pressed beholders as a large, not handsome, but somewhat 
uncouth, country girl. Those who made her acquaintance 
discovered speedily that she was a most energetic, practical 
and managing woman. The picture is not one of a poet's 
wife. And yet a score of letters and witnesses examined 
by me testify that she loved and admired her husband with 
her whole heart, and that for many years she tenderly cared 
for him and his children. As for Guy, he worshipped the 
ground his wife trod on, and their union made all the future 
bright before him. 


But Guy was again, to quote the language of a Buffalo 
barrister, "adrift on the surface of circumstances." His last 
position he had stuck to for nearly three years a long time 
for him. It might have been expected, therefore, that his 
mind would seek relaxation from the prolonged strain in a 
flight of some boldness. It did so. Spurning newspapers, 
it sprang to pursuit of the morus multicales. For the benefit 
of those here who are as ignorant as I was a we-ek ago, let 
me explain. A little over thirty years ago, the idea possessed 
this country that th^ royal road to fortune was silk-raising, 
and a kind of mulberry surnamed multicales, famed to fur- 
nish the choicest food of the silk-worm, burst into popular- 
ity as the means of silk production. This idea became a 
mania, like the Dutch tulip madness or the craze of petro- 
leum. It converted thousands into tillers of the soil and 
planters of the mulberry. It filled the whole air with imag- 
inary silk and visionary wealth. Small wonder that it made 
dear, credulous Guy its easy victim. 

Without waiting to settle up his affairs at the Commercial 
office time was precious and the multicales would brook 
no delay he flew to Sheldon, his wife's old home, and 
started a mulberry farm. A year later, he has discovered 
that the soil and climate of Painesville, Ohio, are more con- 
genial to the mulberry, and is established as a mulberry 
planter there. In July, 1841, he writes to his uncle Hezekiah 
from Painesville, that, notwithstanding the backwardness 
of the season, "we have about 300,000 worms now feeding 
and doing well, the greater portion of which will wind up 
in about two weeks." Whether they "wound up" in a double 
and different sense, or by what other potent vermifuge Guy 
divested himself of his 300,000 worms, I know not, but in 
less than three months from this time he was back in Buffalo 
again, applying his toil-hardened hands to the scissors and 
the quill in the old Commercial editorial room. The mul- 
berry bubble had burst, and Guy never tarried to pick up 
the pieces of his bubbles. It was his happy fortune that al- 
most before one bubble had collapsed another had risen and 


floated before him, as radiant and iridescent as if it were the 
first of its kind. 

I have said that he reentered the Commercial ofHce. I 
find traces of his work there at different times in 1841 and 

1842, and learn that he became again a regularly engaged 
writer on that paper. But the next distinct view we get of 
him is nearly two years after his retirement from the silk- 
worm business. In this interval he doubtless effected the 
settlement of his affairs with his late partners of the Com- 
mercial, which he had postponed so long, and perhaps also 
made some disposition of the vestiges of his Painesville in- 
terest. At any rate, some time in the spring or summer of 

1843, Guy reappears once more, though but for a brief 
season, in the editorial profession. His good and tried 
friend Manchester, associated with his uncle Hezekiah, was 
at this time publishing the Buffalo Gazette as a Democratic, 
or rather Tyler paper, and of this Guy became editor. But 
a very short time afterwards, the Gazette contained a per- 
sonal card in which he states that failing health and the 
necessity of less sedentary 'employments compelled him to 
relinquish the chair editorial. His old Whig associates had 
not failed to rail at the inconsistency of his appearance in a 
Tyler newspaper, and 'his sudden disappearance therefrom 
was not less turned to sarcastic advantage. How the witty 
editor of the Commercial accounted for his quick retreat and' 
indicated the next tangent in Guy's changeful career is 
shown in the following paragraph, evidently from Dr. 
Foote's pen : 

"It is but just to Mr. G. H. Salisbury to say that he has 
not 'sufficiently humbled his fine mind to indite Tyler para- 
graphs/ He backed out after a trial of a week or so, find- 
ing his mind and conscience not plastic enough for a Tyler 
editor. He is about to enter upon the 'cotton and sugar line* 
at Fort Wayne, and instead of reveling in those fine fancies, 
delicate conceits and eloquent, truthful appeals wherewith 
he was wont to regale the public, he is now deep in the mys- 
teries of dry goods and groceries. May health and success 
attend him, for none are more deserving but we should 


like to see him some bright dewy morning dealing out cod- 
fish and plug tobacco, and chaffering about the price of a 
barrel of 'black salts'/' 

From the summer of 1843 tiM September, 1846, there- 
fore, Mr. Salisbury sinks the Buffalonian in the western 
merchant. He settled first in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but be- 
fore long found it advantageous to remove his stock and 
store to Logansport, in the same state. His life out West 
seems to have been one of drudgery not unmingled with 
fever and ague, and, except the manuscript of "an address 
delivered at the organization of the Cass County Temper- 
ance Union," at Logansport, March, 1844, it does not seem 
to have born any literary fruit. Guy was happy, however, 
and took profound comfort in his home and family. During 
the mulberry period his first child, Lemuel, had been born, 
and in Indiana two others, Franklin and a junior Guy, were 
added to and completed his family circle. The death of little 
Franklin, which occurred either in this city or in Sheldon 
about the time of his return from the West, inflicted upon 
his tender heart the deepest wound, with one exception, it 
ever experienced. The death was caused by an accident very 
shocking in its nature the child having been literally 
scalded to death and the impression left on the father's 
mind was inexpressibly painful. For over a year after the 
sad event, Mr. Salisbury was not known to laugh, or even to 
smile, so heavily lay the thought of it on his heart. 

In September, 1846, he was back in Buffalo and in No- 
vember following he made his next periodic entry into jour- 
nalism as the, successor of Joseph Stringham in the editor- 
ship of the Courier & Pilot, then published by Manchester 
& Brayman. In this connection he continued till December, 
1847, when he opened an office on Washington Street as a 
real-estate agent. 

The first years of his career in this business were the best 
of Mr. Salisbury's life. Although as a business man, as well 
as editor, he was inveterately given to procrastination, never 
doing tomorrow what he could do the day after just as well, 
he had some valuable qualifications for his new occupation. 


Amiable and engaging in his manners, he made friends of 
everybody, and he had a certain talent for business details 
which stood him in stead for the thorough business habits 
which he lacked. At all events, as a land agent he flour- 
ished and accumulated property. Thus released from the 
pressure of impecuniosity, his mind freshened and 'eagerly 
sought the relaxations to which his fine tastes directed him. 
He 'had already done much to soften and sweeten the in- 
tensely practical life of the young city he lived in, but now 
he bent himself more systematically to the gentle task. I 
do not hesitate to say, for example, that the sentiment of 
interest in our local 'history, of which this society is the ex- 
pression, was largely awakened by Mr. Salisbury's labors 
and writings. At the same time it was his pleasure, on all 
fitting occasions, to lift into view the poetic aspect of things. 
With all his faults and failings let us think gratefully of 
him, for in a desperately materialistic community, he taught, 
as best he knew, the neglected worship of The Beautiful ! 
The series of his "Letters from Under a Bank," published 
in 1848, while his land office was under the Patchin Bank, 
at the corner of Erie and Main streets, occurs to me in this 
connection. In these papers, as in the multitude of others 
published in the city press or in the Western Literary Mes- 
senger, I claim that he did more than any other man to show 
us the ideal side of the rough practical life we were leading. 
He was our poet, in a word, sometimes telling of the 
"Streamlet in the City" which had quenched his childish 
thirst on its woodland way to the river and which is now 
lost in reeking sewers and under rude paving-stones ; anon 
recalling the vanished meadows and hills and flowers which 
the great city has hid forever ; and again holding gentle 
gossip about the characters of a bygone day and the faces 
which once were beautiful but now are seen no more. 

Apropos of local history, I notice that his election as re- 
cording secretary of the Young Men's Association, in 1848, 
is immediately followed by the formation of a committee on 
local history of which he was made a member. The follow- 
ing year he is reflected, and takes this committee's chair- 


manship. Behold the germ of the Buffalo Historical So- 
ciety ! 

Before this, in 1842 and 1843, ne was a manager of the 
Young Men's Association and contributed largely, as chair- 
man of the library committee, to the growth and good order 
of the library. Dec. 29, 1848, he read a paper, in the lecture 
course of the association, on "The Speculations of '36" 8 
all of which he saw and part of which he was. In 1850 he 
was elected the association's second vice-president. 

And now, from this heyday of our old friend's prosperity 
and usefulness, we must pass to his clouded afternoon. I 
think it was sometime in 1849 tnat tne manifestations of 
what is called "Spiritualism" began to be noised abroad, and 
in 1850, I believe, the notorious Fox sisters came up from 
Rochester and held a seance at the Phelps House, in this 
city. Mr. Salisbury attended, and at once became intensely 
interested in the new phenomena. At first an eager observer, 
he soon became a believer in the claims of the "mediums," 
and the subject of spiritualism speedily engrossed his entire 
mind. It is not my intention to cast discredit on any reli- 
gious belief, but the truth of biography compels me to say 
that the influence of the gospel of the mediums upon Mr. 
Salisbury was disastrous. That his business suffered from 
his absorption in the new faith was the least of its evil 
effects. That it more or less directly occasioned the break- 
ing up of his home and the ruin of his domestic happiness, 
is the grave charge I have to lay at its door. 

Earnest and affectionate man as Mr. Salisbury was, he 
could not rest until his wife had entered with him into the 
new fold. With bitter regret he confessed afterwards that 
he had shaken his wife's faith in other doctrines, and had 
urged her to embrace spiritualism. When it was too late 
he would have given the world to restore her mind to its 
ancient moorings. Both became earnest spiritualists and 
both suffered a hurtful change of nature. The home which 
had been Guy's blissful refuge from all storms, and in which 

6. This most interesting paper will be found in Vol. IV of the Buffalo 
Historical Society Publications. 


all his spare hours had been delightfully spent, ceased to be 
a happy one. Finally, in the spring of 1862 his wife left 
him and Guy was a broken-hearted man. It is not for me 
to divide the blame of this domestic shipwreck. Suffice it to 
say that never did our dead friend lay aught of its burden 
on her he had loved, and whom he continued to love, faith- 
fully and tenderly, to the last. 

But the time was coming round again when Mr. Salis- 
bury must once more dabble in printer's ink. "Printing runs 
in some families," he was wont to say, and the virus had 
certainly inoculated him incurably. In October, 1857, with 
the forlorn hope of being able to lift his friend Bristol out 
of a sea of financial troubles, he bought out the entire es- 
tablishment of the Republic, up to that time conducted by 
the firm of Bristol & Welch. Mr. Welch retired, Mr. Bris- 
tol continued as the newspaper's manager, while the finan- 
cial load of the much embarrassed institution was securely 
fixed on the shoulders of poor Guy. His real-estate office 
was finally abandoned a year later, or about the close of 
1858. The business of the newspaper, which Mr. Salisbury 
had undertaken, as ill luck would have it, at the very mo- 
ment of the monetary panic of 1857, plunged on from bad 
to worse, and from one depth of trouble to a deeper. In 
1860 Mr. Salisbury emerged, for the last time, from the 
printing business. A harassing load of debt and some scraps 
of encumbered real estate were all that remained to remind 
him of the comfortable fortune he had sacrificed on the altar 
of friendship. 

Before this time his confidence in spiritualism had become 
greatly shaken. His enthusiasm gradually abated and the 
new system failed to sustain the tests his incisive judgment 
was then able to apply. But the revulsion of his mind on 
this subject did not make him a whit less candid or earnest 
in his quest of truth. A gentleman who knew him inti- 
mately at this time, tells me that his leading characteristic 
was the eagerness with which his mind tendered its hospi- 
talities to all pure and true ideas, no matter in what shape 
or from what quarter they came. The opinions of others, 


moreover, were always sure of respectful attention at his 
hands. After his house was broken up he sought for a time 
to beguile his loneliness by inviting a few friends to his 
room on Niagara Street. These little meetings by and by 
were held regularly and, as his room very well bore the ap- 
pellation of "The Cave," its frequenters naturally took to 
themselves the title of "The Hermits." Albert Brisbane, 
C. C. Bristol, J. N. Lamed, Thos. Kean and Henry W. 
Faxon were the leading members of this order, while Guy 
was the graceful host, the courteous listener, the Hebe and 
amateur cook of the nocturnal sessions. It was in these re- 
unions and under the influence of a remarkable article of 
coffe-e distilled in an apparatus known only to the denizens 
of "The Cave," that Mr. Brisbane was wont to deliver, to 
delighted hearers, some of the finest of his magnificent philo- 
sophical rhapsodies. To the spell of these lofty utterances of 
the philosopher Guy always yielded himself an enchanted 
captive, and, while he never was a proselyte, be was for 
long an admiring appreciator and reflector of the views of 
the great socialist. 

But how shall I describe, or analyze, or account for the 
phase into which Guy Salisbury's life and character settled 
during his closing decade of life? I have said that the man 
whom during this period I learned to know, was but the 
wreck of what he had been, and in a certain sense this is 
strictly true. To the -eye of the world around him, his was 
indeed a. broken life. It ceased to keep up appearances 
ceased to make any effectual effort for its -external well- 
being ceased to do anything but drift on the current of 
the years. And yet, as in an orchard you have sometimes 
seen a broken bough exhibit unwonted fruitfulness, so those 
who knew Guy well discovered that certain faculties, pow- 
ers and graces of his nature received a stimulus from the 
shock of calamity. The bough was drawing finer juices 
from its fount of nourishment ; its fruitage displayed subtle 
qualities thitherto latent. Thus, though he had fallen into 
circumstances of loneliness and desolation, his native cheer- 
fulness, his love of his kind, and of all nature, his exquisite 


humor, and, in fine, all that was sunniest and rarest in his 
composition, only reached, in the shade of his misfortune, a 
fuller development. Disaster had overtaken him at the 
threshold of age, but under the stroke there seemed to 
spring up in him a principle of renewed and perennial youth. 
It was sometime in 1863, I think, that he was led to asso- 
ciate himself with a small literary and social club of young 
people called "The Nameless." To the year of his death, 
he was the genialest, the most youthful and faithful member 
of that organization. The almost boyish ardor of his nature 
even became for himself a subject of gentle jest. I have 
seen on one of his scraps of memoranda a pencil scribble to 
this effect: "A proposition is before the Kansas legislature 
to allow all persons over eighteen the right to vote. If that 
becomes a law, I'm off for Kansas !" For several years of 
his later life the pressure of bitter recollections on the one 
hand, and his impulse toward all kinds of youthful demon- 
strations on the other, bore him occasionally even into some 
of the excesses of youth to which, by the way, his previous 
life had been a total stranger. But this was the extent of our 
dead friend's sins against morality, touching which, as usual, 
the Pharisees have had much to say. I happen to know that 
during his last two or three years, when his dilapidated per- 
sonal appearance was constantly referred to as the effect of 
dissipated habits, he lived the life of an ascetic, denying him- 
self the luxury of meat and even the marvelous coffee he 
formerly took so much pride in preparing. 

With the rejuvenation of his feeling which I have tried 
to describe, there seemed to well up in his mind thitherto 
unsuspected springs of genius and power. I always liked 
Guy's prose better than his poetry, but his conversation, in 
his latter days, was worth more than either. It was when 
talking, in the circle of his familiar friends, that he had his 
best inspiration and did justice to the richness and variety 
of his mental gifts and acquisitions. His fancy flagged, his 
delicate intuitions were dulled when he put pen to paper, 
but they singularly irradiated his speech. His manner and 
presence, too, which gave a charm to all he uttered, were 


not transferable to the written page. Some of his Nameless 
friends who, on one occasion visited him while illness con- 
fined him to his chair, have told me how they sat for nearly 
two hours, alternately thrilled and delighted by the talk with 
which he then entertained them. It was in a strain of un- 
conscious and inspired eloquence, sometimes taking the form 
of soliloquy rather than address that he spoke, now re- 
calling scenes of the past memories of old times and de- 
parted friends again traversing subjects of literature, 
philosophy or of common life, and on everything he touched 
shedding a light as delicate as that of the moonbeam. Who, 
of the few who were privileged to sit at the banquet of his 
speech, shall recall its varied substance and -exquisite man- 
ner who report its fluent, supple rhetoric, its flashes of 
poetic fire, its verbal drolleries, its unexpected turns of wit, 
its graceful blendings of the grave and gay? 

I have spoken of Mr. Salisbury's amiability and innate 
politeness. He was indeed one of nature's gentlemen such, 
because by birth unselfish, gentle and comprehensively lov- 
ing. He could work better for others than for himself. His 
active sympathy, notwithstanding his delicacy of feeling, 
enabled him to establish friendly relations with all his kind. 
It made him, in the broad sense of the word, a democrat, a 
man of the people. But his loving nature was not bounded 
by the limits of the human world. In his ideal economy the 
lower animals also had honorable place and consideration. 
I remember that, once, unerring instinct led a little black 
and tan terrier, with a broken leg, to the door of my friend's 
room. Guy took it in, nursed its- wounds and adopted it as 
his inseparable friend and companion. Ponto speedily de- 
veloped a wonderful intelligence. When he had done mis- 
chief and knew that he deserved punishment, he would hold 
up to Guy his broken leg, and plead absolution for his mis- 
fortune's sake. And he always received it. One day the 
pair of friends entered the office of a well-known lawyer 
who has no toleration for dogs. "I would like to know 
what people keep dogs for ?" testily observed the man of the 
law. "Well, Mr. G ," instantly replied Salisbury, 


"Providence has created dogs, and has evidently designed 
that men should take care of them. Now, I'm not going to 
fly in the face of Providence !" When Ponto died, Guy 
brooded and mourned as if the world had grown darker to 

Mr. Salisbury's love of inanimate nature was also pro- 
found, and it deepened as he neared his end. While in the 
city he constantly yearned for the rural sights and sounds 
amidst which he spent his childhood, but which the aggran- 
disement of the city had put to flight. Much as he enjoyed 
the society of his friends, it was a greater joy for him to take 
long rambles into the country and observe, with the keen 
interest of a child, the natural objects he encountered. 
From these journeys he would return with a glowing ac- 
count of the birds, the foliage and the flowers he had s-een. 
The grass was always a little greener and softer to Guy 
than to common folk. Even when he became exceedingly 
infirm, these long country walks were persevered in, and 
his very last conversations with friends expressed his eager 
yearning to be away from the din and dust of the city, under 
the smokeless heaven and upon the unsoiled lap of his 
mother earth. He was weary, and longed for rest and the 
smell of verdure and the singing of birds. 

But I am neglecting to chronicle the few events by which 
his later years were marked. In May, 1862, at the first 
regular meeting of the Buffalo Historical Society, he was 
appointed its corresponding secretary. As such, and as cus- 
todian of its rooms and archives, he continued to act till 
April, 1864. If the duties of his secretaryship had not de- 
manded a certain degree of promptitude and punctuality, of 
which, as we have seen, Guy was utterly incapable, the post 
would have been exactly suited to him. Even as it was, he 
enjoyed its work, and did the society much valuable service. 

In June, 1867 the interval between this and the forego- 
ing date having been employed by him in a sort of hopeless, 
chronic effort to make something of the wrecks of his prop- 
erty he had a fall from which he sustained severe injuries. 
His old lameness was greatly aggravated by the accident, 


and he complained ever afterwards of very imperfect sight. 
For a considerable time he was confined to his room and de- 
barred from the use of his favorite books and pen. While 
in this condition, like the exiled Napoleon on St. Helena, he 
would plunge himself into the intricacies of the game of soli- 
taire, working for hours together to solve its problems, or 
abandon himself to dreams and the building of air castles. 
He was also of an inventive turn of mind, and employed 
much of his time latterly in originating a vast variety of 
contrivances, useful and fantastic. His list of inventions, 
of which he kept a careful record, comprised pretty nearly 
everything, from a new steamship to a bed-bug trap. The 
last mentioned article he d'evised in response to the humor- 
ous reproach of a friend that he never had invented any- 
thing of practical value. He claimed that in the course of 
its construction he had acquired a more intimate knowledge 
of the history and habits of the insect in question than was 
possessed by any man in America. Another fact about the 
trap : it did not contemplate the death of the bug. He was 
to be captured alive, and only punished by exile. 

With such habits, and busy with such pursuits as I have 
thus indicated, Guy H. Salisbury neared his journey's end. 
Although he failed perceptibly towards the last, he had no 
fear of death, and indeed no expectation of it. He often 
asserted that he saw no reason why the longevity of his 
family and his good constitution should not carry him to the 
end of the century, and he was constantly dreaming of 
restored fortune and the projects which retrieved wealth 
would enable him yet to undertake. It is almost superfluous 
to say that these plans for the future which never came, 
invariably had far more reference to the good and pleasure 
of others, than to his own. 

A few days before his death his cousin, Elias O. Salisbury 
(to whom, by the way, I am indebted for much of the data 
of this paper), called at his room and found him in rather 
frail physical condition, but in good spirits. He had an in- 
terest in some lands on Buffalo creek, some distance above 
the Ohio-street bridge, and on the occasion I speak of ex- 


pressed his confidence that the demands of the coal trade 
for additional wharfage would soon make the property im- 
mensely valuable. He felt sure that a way was at last open- 
ing for him out of his pecuniary troubles. At the same time 
he admitted to his cousin that he felt weak and ill, and his 
old craving to get into the country was evidently still upper- 
most in his mind. He had a tender love for children, and 
always found a rare delight in their company. Reminding 
his cousin of this fact, he said that if he could only get 
away where there were flowers and young children, he 
would surely be cured. 

On Wednesday, the 1st of September, 1868, he started 
out to take a walk over the creek lands from which he was 
hoping so great things, and also to collect a small bill of rent 
from a tenant living thereon. He did not return alive. The 
Sunday morning following, his body was taken from the 
waters of the creek, at the Ohio-street bridge, to which it 
had floated from some point above. Manifestly, while walk- 
ing along the brink of the stream, probably in the evening 
and while on his homeward way, he had stumbled and fallen 
into the water. Considering his defective sight and uncer- 
tain footing, the accident was easy of occurrence. On his 
person were found pencilled memoranda which he had made 
almost up to the hour of his death. And now the busy pen- 
cil and the busy mind were still. 

A day or two afterwards a few friends followed his re- 
mains to Forest Lawn, and poor Guy had his wish at last. 
The scent of the flowers is wafted about his resting-place, 
and the birds sing in the trees that sway above him. He had 
been Nature's poet and faithful lover, and, as a mother 
clasps her long absent son, so she took him and folded him 
from the world's neglect. A man of some failings of char- 
acter and many contradictions; yet who among us shall 
keep so loving a heart through life, and go so guileless to 
his grave? 









Buffalo was incorporated only in 1832, and yet, to write 
intelligently of Stephen Louis Le Couteulx da Caumont, a 
pioneer of our city, and the first clerk of Niagara County, 
one must go back to those stirring colonial days, when 
Robert Morris, the Financier of the Revolution, organized 
the Bank of North America, and staked his all in the cause 
of George Washington and national freedom. 

At that time, the Le Couteulx family, forerunners of the 
great house of Rothschild, were noted financiers in Eu- 
rope. The family originated in Normandy, and, possessing 
great wealth, they frequently came to the assistance of the 
French Government with gifts and generous loans of money. 
For such financial aid, the family was ennobled in 1505, and 
granted the unusual privilege of continuing their commer- 
cial pursuits. All branches of this large and influential fam- 
ily united for business purposes, and they had numerous 
enterprises in many countries. 

Gradually younger members of the Le Couteulx family 
gave up thoughts of mercantile pursuits, choosing more 
aristocratic careers in the Church, in the army, and in law. 
The immediate ancestors of Louis Le Couteulx chose the 
law, and attained much prominence in French legal circles. 


At one time, his father, Anthony Le Couteulx, was counsel- 
lor in the Province of Normandy, and a delegate to Parlia- 

But the intricacies of the law had no attractions for Louis, 
and, when twenty years of age, he went to Cadiz, where a 
thorough knowledge of the Spanish language made his ser- 
vices most valuable in the Le Couteulx counting-house. 
That was in 1776, a year of so sacred and so tender a mem- 
ory to every American. Thoughts of those days of pain 
and sacrifice make the pulses quicken, fill heart and soul 
with exultant thanksgivings, and softly enfold in haloes of 
heavenly radiance those glorious deeds that made "our coun- 
try free evermore !" Straining every nerve to raise money 
for George Washington and the Continental army, Robert 
Morris held out his hands to France. And France gave, 
not only gold, but men and leaders who helped us pave the 
way to Independence ! 

Louis Le Couteulx was born at Rouen, France, Aug. 24, 
1756, and being closely related to the Marquis de La Fayette, 
only one year his senior, naturally his heart throbbed with 
youthful enthusiasm and unbounded sympathy for the 
cause espous-ed by so many of his countrymen. For him, the 
skies of sunny Spain were cast with gloom, and many were 
his forebodings at news of battles lost in the cause of free- 
dom. But, when Count de Grasse had brought his squadron 
into the Chesapeake Bay, and made possible that famous 
siege at Yorktown, the heart of the future American citizen 
and pioneer of Buffalo leaped with joy, and gloried in the 
achievement as only a brave and independent spirit can. 

Young Le Couteulx remained in Spain six years, and his 
health was poor most of that time. Returning to France, 
he stayed at home a few weeks, and then went to London, 
where his cousin, Le Couteulx de La Norrayes, presided 
over a large business enterprise. Louis was identified with 
the London house about three years, when the family, feel- 
ing that he had won his spurs, decided to send him to 
America to negotiate a settlement with Robert Morris of 
large sums of money due the family. 


A few weeks before his departure for America, Louis Le 
Couteulx was married to Miss Clouet, whose uncle, Col. 
Tauzan (or Touzard, as sometimes written), was aid to 
General La Fayette in our Revolutionary War. Col. Tau- 
zan lost an arm in the war, and further proved his love for 
America by remaining in the service of the United States 
until his death in 1811. Well can we imagine his cordial 
reception of his niece and her young husband when they ar- 
rived in New York, Dec. 15, 1786. 

Having successfully completed his business matters with 
Robert Morris, and being charmed with America and her 
people, Louis Le Couteulx decided to remain in the coun- 
try. As soon as possible, he became a citizen of the United 
States, making his first declaration, July 7, 1787. After 
living for a short time at Trenton, N. J., in a rented house, 
he bought a fine estate just outside of Philadelphia, which 
he called "La Petite France." For several years, he closely 
identified himself with the interests of Bucks County, Pa., 
and it was probably there was cemented that friendship with 
Robert Morris, which seems to have been a source of much 
comfort and joy to both. 

Like his friend Robert Morris, Louis Le Couteulx was 
a many-sided man. The odd bits of information found here 
and there concerning his life and adventures, make us realize 
that his was a career full of romance and daring deeds. 
Unfortunately no trace can be found of the diary which he 
kept for many years. With that precious volume in our 
possession, imagination could weave the fragments into a 
story that a Cooper, an Irving or even a Walter Scott need 
not have disdained to pen. 

The climate of Philadelphia was most unfavorable to 
Madam Le Couteulx, and so on Oct. 17, 1789, accompanied 
by their two sons, Alphonse Pierre and William B,, Louis 
Le Couteulx and his wife returned to France for a visit of 
one year. 

Scarcely a more unfavorable time could have been chosen 
to visit their native land, then disturbed by great social and 
religious upheavals. In Normandy, Catholic faith was more 


intense and more deeply rooted than in any other part of 
France. There the atheistic element in French society made 
fierce war upon the Church, and Church questions quickly 
became political issues. On arriving, Mr. Le Couteulx 
found that his father and several relatives had been impris- 
oned, and that if discovered he himself might expect the 
same fate. Securing a place of safety for his wife and sons, 
he escaped to England in an open boat manned only by two 
fishermen. It was a bold, even a rash venture ; but bravely 
surmounting the perils of the passage, the fearless fisher- 
men safely made the English coast. Our adventurer went 
at once to London, where friends of former years received 
him with open arms. 

Some time during that same year, whether before his re- 
turn to France or while a refugee in England is uncertain, 
Mr. Le Couteulx -exported from Spain the first pair of 
Merino sheep ever brought to the United States. This event, 
marking an epoch in the domestic economy of our country, 
was attended with grave dangers to those who shipped the 
animals for Mr. Le Couteulx, as the Spanish Government 
condemned to the galleys for life any persons engaged in 
such exportations. Some chronicles state that the sheep 
were presented to Thomas Jefferson; but a careful search 
through eight volumes of the Jefferson Letters failed to dis- 
cover any mention of such an occurrence. The statement 
given by another authority that the sheep were a gift to 
Robert Morris is probably correct. 

At his summer home, "The Hills," on the eastern bank 
of the Schuylkill river, and about three miles from Phila- 
delphia, where he lived from 1770 to 1800, Robert Morris' 
hobby seems to have been a desire to make his farm the 
most attractive place in Pennsylvania. The large stone man- 
sion, equipped with every device to make life comfortable, 
was surrounded by 300 acres of beautifully wooded and 
rolling country. Imported cattle and sheep browsed on pas- 
tures sloping towards the river, and it is altogether probable 
that his neighbor at "La Petite France" was determined to 
complete the beauty of the landscape, by adding those pre- 


cious animals so carefully treasured by the Spanish Gov- 
ernment. With a man like Louis Le Couteulx, the dangers 
incurred in securing the sheep would only increase his de- 
sire to see them on Robert Morris' farm. 

The Le Couteulx family affairs in "La Petite France" 
had not been unalloyed in their happiness, and once back in 
her native land, Madam Le Couteulx refused to return to 
Philadelphia. Accordingly, on Feb. 17, 1790, Louis sailed 
for America alone, arriving in Philadelphia after an un- 
eventful voyage. He sold "La Petite France" and prepared 
for a journey through the western part of the country. 

Robert Morris had just purchased from Gorham and 
Phelps, about 1,200,000 acres of land in Western New York, 
extending to Lake Erie. No home ties now binding him to 
Bucks County, and true to those instincts for which the 
Latin race has ever been famous, Louis Le Couteulx deter- 
mined to see for hims-elf those lands. Fearless of all dan- 
gers and discomforts, and accompanied only by a servant, 
Louis Le Couteulx set out on horseback for his land of ad- 
venture, a veritable Don Quixote and his Sancho! He 
visited many parts of the United States, and for two years 
or more, journeyed here and there as fancy dictated. Much 
of this time was spent with the various Indian tribes, many 
of whom became greatly attached to Mr. Le Couteulx. 
They admitted him to their councils, and gave him every 
opportunity to study their language and their people. So 
much was he esteemed by the red men of the forest, even 
the Senecas, those Romans of the Five Nations, placed a 
high value upon his friendship, and adopted him into their 

During those years when Louis Le Couteulx was wan- 
dering and studying, Robert Morris, while investing largely 
in real estate, resumed his interests in the cultivation and 
sale of tobacco. His father, Robert Morris, Sr., had settled 
at Oxford, on the Chesapeake, as agent for a large firm of 
tobacco merchants of Liverpool, about 1738; and, when 
quite a young man, Robert' Morris, Jr., became a member of 
the tobacco firm of Chas. and Thomas Willing Co. of Phila- 


delphia. It was but natural then, after resigning as Super- 
intendent of Finance in the infant Republic, that Robert 
Morris should resume that business by which he had 
amassed a fortune. 

The friendship of Robert Morris and Louis Le Couteulx 
was evidently a warm and sincere one. That there were 
social and business ties between Morris and other members 
of the Le Couteulx family, is shown by numerous letters 
preserved among the Morris manuscripts in the Library of 
Congress. Though these do not relate to the immediate sub- 
ject of our sketch, some of them, addressed to relatives of 
Louis Le Couteulx, afford interesting glimpses of the con- 
ditions and business methods of the time. One or two of 
them follow : 

PHILAD* 6 April 1795. 
MR. J. B. LE COUTEULX, Paris: 

SIR : Yesterday I received y r letter of the 13 Feby, and I beg for 
your belief when I assure you of my feeling Sympathy for the loss of 
Mr. Laurent Le Couteulx. The Circumstances which occasioned his 
Death give additional force to ones feelings and I lament it sincerely. 
I pray you to present my Respects to Madame the Widow of Mr. L : 
Le Couteulx with my best Wishes for the happiness of her and her 
Children. It is very true that I agreed to make the Payment of 
about 2800 Strs- to Mr. L. Le Couteulx and you, as you will see by 
the enclosed copy of the letter written on this subject which you say 
did not come to your hands. Mr. G. Morris certainly had not funds 
to make this pay* nor was it in my expectation that it would be 
asked of him therefore I did not think of providing it in his hands 
or lodging the Money in Europe. The mode you now point out by 
shipment of Tpb [tobacco] is more agreeable to me and therefore 
I shall pursue it. There is however one objection. The last crop of 
Tob is of the worst quality in Virg- that has been known of many 
years, and I think your plan of supplying your manufactory at Mor- 
laix was to have Tob<> of the very best quality. To get good Tob 
of the last crop is impossible and as you say you are in want, of 
course, you must be content with such as can be got, other Manufac- 
tories will be in the same situation and consequently cannot make 
better snuff than yours. 

Mr. John Richard Junf is now here being lately come up from 
Richmond I will consult with him and if the Tobacco is shipped 
from the present Crop we will do the best that is possible, it is very 
disagreeable to buy and ship Goods of ordinary quality but if you 
receive the best is to be had, you must not complain for if I do ship 
Tobo it will only be from a desire to comply with your wishes. I 
shall soon address you again being with sincere regard 



PHILADA May 1st 1795. 

SIR: I deliver this letter to Mr. James Taylor of Alexandria in 
Virginia who is about to sail with a Cargo of Tob for France which 
he will have to sell there, and as you are interested in the Manufac- 
tory at Morlaix I judge that this introduction may be useful to you 
as well as to Mr. Taylor. I beg leave to recommend him to your 
Friendship and good offices and I also recommend him to make you 
an offer of his Cargo for which I presume you can afford to give as 
good a price as any others. The Tob from Potomac River you 
know is not equal to the James River Tob but I expect this Cargo 
is of the best that could be collected in that part of the Country. 

I am Sir [etc] R. M. 

PHIL* May 31, 1795. 

GENT N : I received on the 5th Inst your favor of the 26 Feby 
O. S. 3. R. Francis, upon the affairs of Mr. Jon* Nesbitt, and cannot 
help expressing my regret that you or I should be plagued and 
troubled so much about affairs with which we ought not to have 
any thing to do, for altho' it was once intended that Conyngham 
Nesbitt & Co and myself were to have become Partners with Mr. 
Nesbitt and were to have executed Articles of Copartnership yet that 
never was done, and my letter to him upon that Subject which laid 
the foundation for this trouble is not conclusive. I hope and expect 
therefore that upon a fair hearing you will obtain in your Courts a 
Decision in my favor. However Mr. Jon* Nesbitt is gone to Europe 
for the purpose of effecting a Compromise with his Creditors, and 
carried with him all the Effects he could raise which he intends to 
divide amongst them provided they will give him Acquittance, and he 
alledges that he ought cheerfully to accept of his Propositions be- 
cause the bulk of what is claimed, is only the effect of frauds and 
Impositions committed against him by those of whom he purchased 
Goods during the American War, and he is of opinion, or so he 
declared to me, that most of his Creditors had already received more 
than in Justice they were entitled to. ... Be this as it may, I hope 
that you and I shall get clear of this business with which we ought 
not to be troubled. 

With sincere Regard, I remain, Yrs 
* R. M. 

PHILADA Octo 12, 1795. 

GENTN : I deliver this letter to my son in Law James Marshall 
Esq r uncertain whether it ever will be presented to you. He is about 
to embark, accompanied by his Wife, for Europe and they may pos- 
sibly visit Paris. Should that happen you may readily conceive how 
much I shall feel myself obliged by any attentions you may be pleased 


to pay to the Daughter of my affections and to her Husband whom I 
esteem. They are young and being entire strangers in Paris, I beg 
leave to recommend them in the warmest Manner to your notice. 

I am sincerely Yours 

R. M. 1 

These letters show that the Le Couteulx family was prom- 
inent not only in business, but socially as well. And from 
the letter of introduction given to his son-in-law, James 
Marshall, "commending in the warmest manner to your 
notice the daughter of my affection, and her husband whom 
I esteem" we can gather that the most cordial intimacy 
existed between the two families. 

In 1795, when Louis Le Couteulx established himself in 
business at Albany, the tide of emigration to the western 
part of the State was rising. Midwinter, if there were 
sleighing, was a favorable time, because transportation by 
sleighs was much -easier than by wagons. In January and 
February, at this period, as many as 500 sleighs passed 
through Albany daily. Families moving westward from the 
New England States, always stopped at Albany to replenish 
their supplies; and activity at the Le Couteulx drug store 
kept pace with the moving tide. 

That Louis Le Couteulx assumed at once a prominence 
in Albany which his family prestige and personal worth jus- 
tified is proved by the following extract from the narrative 
of "Travels" published in London, by the Duke de la Roche- 
foucault Liancourt, who visited Albany in 1795 : 

"Some French families reside in this town and its vicin- 
ity; that of M. Le Couteulx a highly interesting name 
is the only one whose acquaintance I wished to obtain. They 
who are acquainted with this family know that it has long 
been distinguished for rectitude and talents, as well as for a 
consummate knowledge and punctuality in commercial 
transactions; qualities which have been as it were heredi- 

i. The above and others not here printed, chiefly letters of introduction 
addressed to various members of the Le Couteulx family, are copied from the 
"Morris Letter Book, I," Morris MSS., Library of Congress. Acknowledg- 
ment is here made of the courteous assistance of Dr. Herbert Putnam, Libra- 
rian of Congress. 


tary in it. M. Le Couteulx of Albany, is, by unanimous tes- 
timony of all who have had any dealings with him, worthy 
of his name. His ideas as well as his expressions carry 
some air of peculiarity; but he is good, obliging, honest, 
and universally respected. He is engaged in partnership 
with M. Quesnel, a merchant of St. Domingo; this house 
is again connected with the firm of Olive in New York and 
through this it is asserted with the great and respectable 
house of Le Couteulx in France." 2 

Louis Le Couteulx had other distinguished visitors, while 
residing in Albany. Here Lafayette was his guest. And 
here, too, when as a French exile, he was forced to leave 
England by the "Alien Bill," Talleyrand, the great French 
diplomat, had many a chat with his countryman. Talley- 
rand sailed for the United States February, 1794, and re- 
mained in this country more than a year. Part of this time 
was spent in Albany, where he had lodgings in a quaint old 
building standing until recently on the west side of Chapel 
Street and south of Maiden Lane. 

Chapel Street brings to mind the religious life of Albany 
in which Louis Le Couteulx took a prominent part. In spite 
of the frequent visits of Catholic missionaries on their way 
to the Indian villages in the Mohawk valley, there was no 
organized body of Catholics in Albany until 1796. In the 
early summer of 1796, about one year after Louis Le Cou- 
teulx had settled in Albany, the Catholic portion of the pop- 
ulation began to collect money for a church. The city gave 
a fine piece of property on Pine Street, between Barrack 
and Lodge, and a meeting was held at the home of James 
Robichaux, where a Catholic society was formally corpor- 
ated, October 6th. The certificate of corporation in the 
County Clerk's office is signed by Louis Le Couteulx and 
Daniel McEvers. 

There being no resident priest in or near Albany, the cor- 
nerstone was laid by Thomas Barry, and the little church 
was called St. Mary's. It was a brick building about fifty 

2. "Travels," London, 1799, p. 384. This edition of La Rochefoucault 
spells the name "Le Couteux." 


feet square, and the second Catholic church in New York, 
St. Peter's in New York City being the first. The name of 
Barrack Street was changed to Chapel Street, probably in 
compliment to the little congregation, which for many years 
was the only Catholic body between Albany and Detroit. 

As was usual in those days, when building churches, 
many members of the little congregation in Albany solicited 
funds from friends in various parts of the country, and Mr. 
Le Couteulx was very desirous of visiting Canada for that 
purpose. This extract from a letter written to Mr. Garrett 
Cottringer (Gottrigue) at Philadelphia, Dec. .1, 1796, tells 
us very plainly why Mr. Le Couteulx did not undertake the 
journey, and also throws much light upon the feelings he 
entertained for the British Government : 

Bishop Carroll at our request, has wrote to the clergy of Canada 
praying them to get some person to collect some money in Montreal 
and Quebec for the erection of our church. I wish the English 
would admit me there this winter I would parle Francois among 
the Canadians, and call on every one of them for something, but I 
am told that the British Government instructed Governor Prescott 
not to allow a single Frenchman enter Canada. I hope to see the day 
when they will penetrate into that country without their leave. 

About three months later, this Canadian collecting tour 
was made either by Thomas Barry or John William Barry, 
fortified with the following letter : 


The bearer of this present is Mr. Barry, a Catholic from the 
City of Albany, in the State of New York. He is -appointed to col- 
lect funds to aid in the erection of a church in that place, an under- 
taking worthy of all encouragement; we have accordingly prprnptly 
contributed to this work according to our means. You are invited 
and solicited to co-operate likewise and to afford Mr. Barry the 
opportunity of collecting the donations which the zeal and the liber- 
ality of your parishioners may secure him. 

I am, etc., 


Bishop of Quebec. 
QUEBEC, March 4, 1797. 

St. Mary's congregation has twice outgrown the accom- 
modations in the church. In 1867 when excavating for the 


third and present beautiful structure, an interesting relic of 
the original building was found. It is a piece of marble 
undoubtedly the inscription stone of the little brick church. 
This stone is considered a great treasure, and was built into 
the walls of the present church. It bears Mr. Le Couteulx's 
name, misspelled. 8 

No records were kept at St. Mary's until 1822, conse- 
quently a search of the ecclesiastical records of Albany by 
the reverend secretary of Rt. Rev. Bishop Burke failed to 
discover any data concerning Louis Le Couteulx. However, 
the United States Catholic Historical Magazine contains 
frequent references to his activity in church work. 

The large French settlements in and around Detroit made 
that metropolis of the West most interesting to Mr. Le Cou- 
teulx, and feeling the need of further expansion, he deter- 
mined to visit Detroit. Accordingly, in September, 1800, 
he sallied forth for pastures new. Taking with him a large 
quantity of merchandise, he decided to make Detroit his 
home should he find there a good market for his goods. 

Louis Le Couteulx reached Fort George, on the Cana- 
dian side of the Niagara, October 7th. From Fort George 
the route was through Queenstown and Chippewa to Fort 
Erie, where shipping could be obtained direct to Detroit. 
The romantic fairy that seems to have stood sponsor for him 
in his little Normandy crib, evidently had other plans for 

3. A photograph of this stone was obtained, to accompany this sketch, 
through the kindness of Miss Helen F. Moran of the Albany School Depart- 
ment. Aside from the misspelling of the name Le Couteulx, this stone is of 
historic interest on account of the Masonic emblems engraved upon it. For 
specific reasons, well known, the Masonic order was condemned by Pope 
Clement XII, in 1738, and Catholics were advised to separate themselves from 
that organization. The meagre facilities for transmitting news of any kind 
in the United States at the time, and for fully a century later, the very few 
resident priests, and the great extents of territory embraced in one parish, 
made it impossible for Catholics to keep in touch with Papal edicts. When 
St. Mary's cornerstone was laid in 1797, Bishop Carroll of Baltimore was the 
only bishop in the United States, and his diocese embraced the whole country. 
The first lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in Albany, was Union Lodge, 
organized in 1765, and many of its members were Catholic. There being no 
resident priest, when so important an event as the laying of the Church cor- 
nerstone was to take place, it was but natural that a religious organization to 
which many of the church members belonged, should conduct the exercises. 


Louis. Scarcely had he set foot on shore at Fort George 
than he was arrested as a French spy, by the British, and in 
spite of all protestations, sent to Quebec a prisoner. The 
United States Government immediately demanded his re- 
lease as an American citizen, and made strenuous efforts to 
effect it, but to no avail. He endured rigorous captivity 
from November, 1800, to July 29, 1802, and was released 
only when peace was ratified between France and England. 

An adverse fate seems to have had strange designs upon 
the affairs of Louis Le Couteulx and his former neighbor at 
"The Hills." For many years .their lives had apparently 
drifted apart. Yet, by a strange irony of fate, when the 
lord of "La Petite France" was arrested and sent as a spy 
to a British prison, Robert Morris was languishing in a 
Philadelphia jail where he had been committed for debt. 
This man, who had owned more ships and more land than 
any other man in America, and who out of his private purse 
had kept the Continental Army in the field, was held a pris- 
oner from Feb. 8, 1798, to August, 1801. When released, 
he was sixty- four years of age, and had not a penny he could 
call his own. But the pluck that made possible those colos- 
sal achievements never failed him. . 

Neither could the trials of unjust imprisonment, nor the 
consequent disastrous conditions of his financial and business 
affairs break the indomitable French spirit of Louis Le Cou- 
teulx. Adjusting his affairs as well as he could, he took 
unto himself a second wife, and, hopeful and serene, came 
to the infant Buffalo the "New Amsterdam" of the Hol- 
land Land Company. Here he bought several lots from 
Joseph Ellicott, agent. This company, by the way, repre- 
senting several Dutch merchants in Amsterdam, never had 
corporate existence in this country or in Holland. These 
Dutch capitalists wished to purchase from Robert Morris 
the Indian lands in Genesee County, which he had bought 
from the State of Massachusetts. But, as the laws of our 
country then prohibited non-residents from acquiring title 
to land in America, Robert Morris had recourse to an in- 
genious scheme for transferring to them the land they 



wished to purchase. He conveyed four tracts of land by as 
many deeds, to four groups of persons living in this country. 
The funds were furnished by the Dutch merchants for whom 
the actual purchasers acted as trustees. Some years later, 
the titles to these lands were found defective, and through 
the efforts of Gouverneur Morris, Mrs. Robert Morris be- 
came entitled to $1,500 a year. With this small income, paid 
yearly, Mr. arid Mrs. Morris managed to exist, until Mr. 
Morris died, May 7, 1806. In 1797, the general agent of the 
associated owners, Theophilas Cazenove, engaged Joseph 
Ellicott to survey the land in Western New York. Augus- 
tus Porter was appointed to accompany Joseph Ellicott and 
look after his interests by Robert Morris. When the sur- 
veys had been made to the satisfaction of all concerned, 
Joseph Ellicott was appointed local agent for the company, 
and established his land office at Batavia. That Louis Le 
Couteulx visited Joseph Ellicott at Batavia before coming to 
New Amsterdam is evident from a number of letters written 
to him, and now in the possession of the Buffalo Historical 

In the first letter, July 19, 1803, Mr. Le Couteulx speaks 
of his friends Cazenove and Vanstophurst, saying that he 
"certainly would persuade them to erect a house of worship 
and a free school in this place." Then he adds this local 
prophecy : "There is a possibility of making a good harbour 
at Buffalo in spite of the Barr which is at its entrance. I 
am sure that Yankes can remove it, if Hollanders will not 
undertake it." 

Perhaps the most interesting thing in his second letter, 
July 20, 1803, is the suggestion to cut a canal from the 
mouth of Buffalo Creek to Black Rock, a prophecy almost 
of that larger canal to be built two decades later from Buf- 
falo to his former home on the Hudson. 

Thus do these two letters prove that, standing on the 
threshold of the nineteenth century, their writer was con- 
scious of the future prosperity of Buffalo, and warmly ad- 
vocated those two conditions by means of which she has 
obtained it. 


In 1804, Mr. Le Couteulx engaged some Canadians to 
erect him a residence on the northeast corner of Crow Street 
and Willink Avenue, just opposite where the Mansion 
House now stands, and on the spot occupied by the Le Cou- 
teulx block. In one part of his dwelling Mr. Le Couteulx 
established a drug store, the first in Erie County. The drug 
store faced Crow Street (Exchange), and extending up 
Willink Avenue (Main Street) were the beautiful gardens 
of Mr. Le Couteulx. Southerly, across the Terrace, opened 
up a beautiful vista to the blue waters of Lake Erie. Mr. 
Le Couteulx soon became prominent in Buffalo affairs. Now 
in his fiftieth year, he was a man of push and enterprise. 
No public meeting was complete without him, and no pub- 
lished list of men concerned in public enterprises lacked his 

In 1808, the County of Niagara was erected out of Gene- 
see County, and included all the territory now occupied by 
the present counties of Niagara and Erie. Buffalo was 
made the county seat, and Augustus Porter was appointed 
judge. His associates were Samuel Tupper, Erastus Gran- 
ger, James Brooks and Zather Cushing. Asa Ransom was 
the first sheriff and Louis Le Couteulx the first clerk of the 
county. In 1808 his office was at the corner of Main and 
Swan streets, second story. Until the Holland Land Com- 
pany had completed the Court House and Jail in 1810, 
court was held in Joseph Landon's tavern, now the Mansion 
House site. And many a bit of local gossip was likely well 
digested in the Le Couteulx drug store across the way. 

After serving one year as County Clerk, Mr. Le Couteulx 
was again appointed to the office, Feb. 5, 1811, retaining it 
until 1813. Those were stirring days for the little village on 
Lake Erie. The spirit of '76 burst out into new life, and 
when the conflicts of 1812 had actually begun, Buffalo wit- 
nessed many a notabie deed. A few glimpses of Mr. Le 
Couteulx, in the years before and during the war, are afford- 
ed by the files of the Buffalo Gazette. That his business em- 
braced something more than drugs may be gathered from 








the following advertisement, which in quaint display, ap- 
peared in the Gazette as early as June, 1812 : 

"Louis Le Couteulx, at his store in the village of Buffalo, 
has just received and offers for sale, for cash, or approved 
paper, 10 bbls. Pittsburgh flour, 4 do. Whiskey, 3 do. Pork, 
i do. Hams, I box Bacon. About 25,000 excellent shingles. 
Likewise Drugs & Medicines." 

As the same announcement was running as late as Sep- 
tember of that year, it is hoped that at least a part of tire 
stock "just received" was changed oftener than the "ad." 
Another of Mr. Le Couteulx's announcements, in July of 
this year of war, was of "Five Kegs Butter." He evidently 
traded in many of the articles kept at a country store, as well 
as in drugs and medicines. In December, 1813, we find him 
offering "35 dols. reward" for a horse stolen from his stable. 

Of greater significance were his relations to public affairs. 
On April 15, 1812, as County Clerk, he advertised the re- 
ceipt of commissions of officers "appointed by the Honorable 
Council of Appointment. The persons thus commissioned, 
are requested to attend at said office, in order to receive their 
qualifications." At this and subsequent times Mr. Le Cou- 
teulx qualified as judges or justices of the peace, Samuel 
Tupper, David Eddy and Elias Osborn; Asa Ransom as 
sheriff; Joseph Landon, Henry Brothers and Samuel Hill, 
Jr., as coroners ; and, a little later on, militia officers by the 
score. Mr. Le Couteulx was one of a committee appointed 
"to support the election of Jonas Williams for Member of 
Assembly from Niagara and Chautauqua counties, and 
Daniel D. Tompkins for Governor." He was a delegate to 
the Assembly convention held at the house of Gamaliel St. 
John, April 17, 1813. 

In September, 1812, fearing that the expected attack 
upon the village might result in the loss of county records, 
Mr. Le Couteulx sent them to Mr. Ellicott for safe keeping. 4 

4. A letter from Mr. Le Couteulx to Joseph Ellicott regarding this trans- 
fer is reproduced in facsimile herewith. The original is owned by Mr. Walter 
Devereux of Buffalo, whose courtesy in allowing its present use is hereby 


A few days later, he was obliged to ask for their return, be- 
cause lawyers complained that it was impossible to attend 
to the concerns of their clients, if their writs and papers were 
stored away in a trunk at Batavia. How their legal des- 
cendants who lock the office door and rush off to a ball game, 
would scorn such extraordinary attention to business, when 
the air was filled with the smell of powder, and hostile In- 
dians practiced their war-whoops in nearby forests ! 

Mr. Le Couteulx suffered heavy financial losses by the 
burning of Buffalo in 1813, and having a small property in 
Albany, he decided to take up his residence once more in 
that city. As his name does not appear in the first direc- 
tory of Albany, published in 1813, it is possible that he re- 
turned to Albany early in the year of 1814. Towards the 
close 'of the war, he was appointed Forage Master, in the 
service of the United States, and held the office until June, 
1815. Two years later, his name appears in the Albany di- 
rectory of 1817. His employment is given as sergeant-at- 
arms of the Senate, and his residence as No. 137 Lion Street. 
From 1818 to 1823, he is recorded in the Albany directory 
as sergeant-at-arms of the Senate, and his occupation a 
druggist doing business at 61 Lion Street. Lion Street is 
now called Washington Avenue, and Mr. Le Couteulx 
probably lived there over the drug store. The building now 
at Washington Avenue has every appearance of being at 
least a century old. It has suffered little, if any, alteration, 
and is probably the building occupied by Mr. Le Couteulx. 

After ten years' residence in Albany, Mr. Le Couteulx 
still loooked fondly towards Buffalo; and in 1824 he re- 
turned to the city his energy had helped to build. 

Three years before, the Rt. Rev. Henry Conwell, Bishop 
of Philadelphia, passed through Buffalo, on his way to the 
West, and while here baptized the little daughter of Patrick 
O'Rourke, grandfather of Councilman John McManus. 
This is the first recorded visit of a priest to Buffalo. Noth- 
ing further was done to organize the rapidly-increasing 
Catholic population, until 1828, when they were visited by 
Father Theodore Badin. Father Badin, who was a French- 




man, and the first priest ordained in the United States, was 
on his way back to Kentucky. He stayed in Buffalo six 
weeks, holding services sometimes in the Court House, and 
occasionally at the Le Couteulx home where he was a 
guest. Father Badin issued circulars urging the Catholic 
population to organize and secure a resident pastor. Moved 
by his enthusiasm, Louis Le Couteulx gave as a New Year's 
gift to Bishop Dubois a plot of ground at the corner of Main 
and Louis streets for a church, school, pastor's residence 
and cemetery. 

This was not the first gift of land made to Buffalo inter- 
ests by Louis Le Couteulx. He was living in Albany, when 
"An act to provide for the internal navigation of this State" 
was passed April 17, 1816, and none knew better than he, 
how much such a proposed canal would contribute to the 
prosperity of Buffalo. When it was believed that General 
Peter B. Porter had persuaded the Canal Commissioners to 
make Black Rock the western terminus of the canal, instead 
of giving that advantage to Buffalo, Louis Le Couteulx de- 
termined to stand by Samuel Wilkeson in his fight for Buf- 
falo. A monster meeting was held in Buffalo, and from 
the platform went forth this resolution: 

WHEREAS, The late decision of Canal Commissioners to termin- 
ate the canal at Black Rock upon the plan proposed by Peter B. 
Porter, will be injurious to Buffalo, and in a great measure deprives 
the inhabitants of the benefits of the canal. In order to open an 
uninterrupted canal, navigable upon the margin of Niagara river, 
the undersigned agree to pay to Henry B. Lyman the sums annexed 
to their names." 

The firm of Townsend & Coit headed the list with 
$1,000, and various other sums were quickly promised. 
Louis Le Couteulx gave "one-half an acre of land bounded 
on the canal and extending to the highway." 

From 1829 until his death in 1840, Mr. Le Couteulx 
made a series of magnificent gifts to church and city of valu- 
able lands acquired during his early residence in Buffalo. 
As most of this property lies in the vicinity of Main, Vir- 
ginia, Morgan and Edward streets, this sketch would not be 
complete without more specific reference to that locality. 


Originally, Edward Street consisted of two short streets, 
with a jog at Delaware. From Virginia to Delaware the 
street was Louis Street. From Delaware to Main it was 
narrower and known as Walden Alley. 

Perhaps no side street in the city is so much travelled as 
Edward Street, connecting as it does the business and resi- 
dence sections of the city, and short as it is, few streets in 
the city contain more churches, chapels, schools, charitable 
institutions, public libraries and places of amusement. As 
stated, what is now Edward Street was formerly Louis 
Street and Walden Alley. In 1836-37 these streets were 
widened and straightened from Main to Virginia. The 
name long continued a source of trouble. In 1855 (May 28) 
the Council was petitioned to substitute for the two names, 
the new name of Edward Street. Later an amendment was 
presented, making the name Louis Street. That in turn 
was withdrawn, and on June 18, 1855, the name of Edward 
Street was adopted, though as late as 1862 a petition was 
before the Council, asking that the name of Louis Street 
be restored. One may well ask, for what reason does it 
bear its present name, when, on its four short blocks, there 
stand a public school (No. 46), the Buffalo Orphan Asy- 
lum, the Immaculate Conception church and school, the Le 
Couteulx Institute for Deaf Mutes, the St. Mary's Mater- 
nity Hospital and Kindergarten, and St. Louis' church and 
school; all occupying land in it donated by a man named 
Louis Le Couteulx! By rights his name should be given 
to it, and not merely to the present obscure Le Couteulx 
Street, likely soon to be obliterated by projected improve- 

It has been my privilege to examine some of the deeds 
to these properties. One of their interesting features is a 
little map on the deed given by Louis Le Couteulx to the 
Immaculate Conception church. It shows that back in the 
thirties the extension of Morgan Street was advocated 
which proposed extension is still being talked about, ad- 
vocated and opposed. 



This property was deeded Jan. 8, 1839, and on Novem- 
ber 1 6th that same year, Louis Le Couteulx passed on to his 
eternal reward, aged eighty-four years. His wife had died 
about two years before. The following notice of her death 
was given in the Buffalo Gazette, Feb. 13, 1838: 

"Died. At 7 o'clock Sunday evening, Jane Eliza, wife 
of Louis Le Couteulx, Esq., aged 72 years. Funeral this 
morning (Thursday, Feb. 13), at n o'clock a. m. The 
friends of the deceased are requested to attend without fur- 
ther notice." 

On Thursday, N